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CRISPR collaboration for AstraZeneca
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CRISPR collaboration for AstraZeneca

30.01.2015 - AstraZeneca has joined forces with four research collaborations to use breakthrough CRISPR gene editing technology across its drug discovery platform.

Striking while the CRISPR iron is hot, AstraZeneca is the latest biotech company to join the CRISPR brigade. This week, the UK pharma giant announced its plans to employ the groundbreaking technology that has got scientists and the media buzzing with excitement.

Hailed by scientists as a game-changer, the genome-editing tool is set to change way biomedical research and plant science is conducted in the future. The CRISPR-Cas9 system allows scientists to make changes in targeted genes faster using enzymatic ‘scissors’ that cut DNA (Cas9 nuclease) in a much more precise way than has previously been possible with other technologies, such as zinc-finger nucleases and TALENs. CRISPR is also easier to use and cheaper than the other methods.

Forming a consortium with The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (UK), The Innovative Genomics Initiative, Thermo Fisher Scientific and the Broad Institute/Whitehead Institute (US), AstraZeneca seeks to employ the technology in its key therapeutics areas, and aims to use it to identify and validate new drug targets in preclinical models that closely resemble human disease. The collaborations enable AstraZeneca to use its genome-editing technique across its entire discovery platform in the company's key therapeutic areas (oncology, inflammation/immunology and cardiovascular/metabolic). It will share cell lines and compounds with its partners and work with them to publish findings of its application of CRISPR technology in peer-reviewed journals, contributing to broader scientific progress in the field.

“CRISPR is a simple yet powerful tool that enables us to manipulate genes of potential importance in disease pathways and examine the impact of these modifications in a highly precise way,” said Mene Pangalos, AstraZeneca’s Executive Vice President, Innovative Medicines & Early Development. “We will be able to integrate this ground-breaking technology into our research and help accelerate the discovery of novel treatments for patients.”

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No liability assumed, Date: 31.01.2015