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Jul 16, 2012

Developing Cell Models of Cardiovascular Disease

  • Horizon Discovery established a Center of Excellence (CoE) for gene editing at the U.K.’s University of Leicester, to focus on generating isogenic cell lines harboring either risk-related or protective SNPs identified through genome-wide association studies, which are associated with cardiovascular disease. The resulting cell lines will be licensed to Horizon exclusively in return for royalties. The firm will also have an exclusive option to license relevant IP developed.

    The latest CoE is the fourth to have been established by Horizon in the last two months. In June the firm set up three CoEs, at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the U.K.’s University of Liverpool, and the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, U.K. The institutes will use Horizon’s r-AAV-mediated genome editing technology Genesis to develop new cell models in the field of cancer, including cell lines that express specific epigenetic genes, different Ras protein variants, and PI3K isoforms and other components of the PI3K signaling networks. Just last week Horizon separately announced an agreement with Bayer Pharma to develop preclinical cell-line models in support of the latter’s oncology research and development programs.

    The latest CoE established at Leicester falls in with Horizon’s strategy to generate at least 2,500 new X-MAN™ models of cancer, neurodegenerative, and cardiovascular diseases. The University of Leicester researchers say the patient-relevant disease models will provide new insights into how specific genetic variants contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease.

    “The use of these models in oncology is well established, and has predicted patient responses to targeted therapies both during drug development and in the clinic,” comments Rob Howes, Ph.D., principal scientist at Horizon. “By developing the application of this technology to other disease areas such as cardiovascular disease, we aim to lead the development of personalized medicines in these areas.”


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