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Horizon, WUSTL establish Center of Excellence
by Kelsey Kaustinen  |  Email the author


CAMBRIDGE, United KingdomóHorizon Discovery has announced the establishment of a Center of Excellence for gene editing together with Washington University in St. Louis and the BRIGHT Institute (Bridging Research with Imaging, Genomics and High-Throughput). The BRIGHT Institute, part of the university's cancer efforts, is "dedicated to mechanism- and discovery-based science and structured to enable rapid translation of breakthroughs into patient care through molecular imaging, function genomics and high-throughput technologies." Representing one of the premier genome sequencing facilities worldwide, Washington University and the BRIGHT Institute will work alongside Horizon to translate their genomic data into disease model cell lines for the advancement of cancer knowledge. The new cell lines will be exclusively licensed to Horizon in return for future product royalties.
"We are pleased to license to Horizon the human cell lines we have developed at Washington University," Jason Weber, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine in the Division of Oncology and researcher at the BRIGHT Institute at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said in a press release. "With these cell lines, we will use Horizon's GENESIS technology to alter specific genes involved in the development and progression of cancer. We can also test whether existing or investigational drugs are effective against these models of human cancer, an important early step in the development of personalized medicine."  
Horizon's Center of Excellence program spans a variety of organizations, consisting of academic and not-for-profit research groups or laboratories to which Horizon makes available resources for training and open access to GENESIS, its proprietary rAAV-mediated human gene- editing platform. The Center of Excellence at Washington University and the BRIGHT Institute will make use of the GENESIS platform to develop isogenic pairs (mutant and wild type) of human cell lines that incorporate genes associated with the development of certain diseases. These cell lines will then be available as accurate disease models to enable additional research. David Piwnica-Worms M.D., Ph.D., Helen Piwnica-Worms, Ph.D., Greg Longmore, M.D., Vijay Sharma, Ph.D., Sheila Stewart, Ph.D. and Jason D. Weber, Ph.D. will serve as the principal investigators for the project.  
"We are delighted that a genetic research organization of the caliber of Washington University and the BRIGHT Institute has recognized the potential of the GENESIS technology," Dr. Rob Howes, principal scientist at Horizon Discovery, said in a statement. "We are working with groups around the world to develop an increasing number of cell lines accurately modeling human disease, providing vital tools for understanding, preventing and treating those diseases, and towards more personalized therapies."  
The agreement is in keeping with Horizon's goal of generating at least 2,500 new X-MAN (gene X-Mutant And Normal) models within a variety of diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular, neurological and autoimmune diseases. Horizon's X-MAN cell lines "model many of the common genotypes observed in human cancer, plus provide their perfectly matched normal genetic backgrounds as a reference. X-MAN cell lines separate the cancer-gene spectrum to aid the discovery of specifically targeted drugs that can be used singularly or in combination."  
The Centers of Excellence are part of the GENESIS Gene Editing Consortium, which includes the National Cancer Institute, Cambridge University, Yale University and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
SOURCE: Horizon press release
Code: E10171201



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