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Oct 4, 2012

Synthetic Lethality Program Aims at New Cancer Targets

  • Horizon Discovery and H3 Biomedicine have launched a technology partnership program known as SyntheTx, which they hope will help identify oncology targets and early-stage drug discovery programs for the pharmaceutical industry. H3 Biomedicine is a biopharma focused on the discovery and development of patient-tailored cancer treatments, and is essentially the first partner to join the program, which will be overseen by Alan Ashworth, M.D., professor of molecular biology at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR). Additional biotech and pharma partners will be sought over the next 12–18 months. 

    SyntheTx will combine Horizon’s platform for generating human isogenic cell lines that recapitulate specific cancer genotypes, with both Horizon and H3’s high-throughput RNAi and bioinformatics platforms. The aim is to carry out screens to identify genes that exert synthetic lethality in specific cancer genotypes. H3 and Horizon will initially screen 50 currently undruggable cancer genotypes to identify targets that can be optimized for further development. Any targets identified that won’t be taken on by either Horizon or H3 will then be made commercially available to the pharma industry.

    “Proof-of-concept synthetic lethal screens have shown significant promise in uncovering novel targets, but these studies have so far been unwieldy, difficult to understand, and cannot represent all genes of interest,” comments Chris Torrance, Ph.D., Horizon’s CEO. “Isogenic disease models created using our Genesis gene-editing technology will for the first time allow large-scale, timely, and systemic synthetic lethality screens, incorporating any patient-relevant context.” 

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