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GEN News Highlights : Feb 23, 2011

Horizon Obtains Human Cancer Cell Models from University of Pittsburgh

New panel includes a key human noncoding RNA gene-expression regulator, miR-21.

Horizon Discovery has negotiated exclusive worldwide rights to a panel of new human isogenic cell models developed by University of Pittsburgh researchers Jian Yu, Ph.D., and Lin Zhang, Ph.D., using techniques that form the basis of Horizon’s rAAV Genesis gene-editing platform. The cell models will be added to Horizon’s existing X-MAN™ cell model library of genetically defined, patient-relevant human cell lines.

The new panel includes an isogenic cell model for a key human noncoding RNA gene expression regulator, miR-21, which, the firm points out, is implicated in a range of cancers. It hopes this model will help provide new insights into the effects of miR-21 in patients and its potential as a target for cancer therapy.

The Pitt achievement represents the first development of a clean and stable miR-21 knockout model, claims Chris Torrance, Horizon’s co-founder and CSO. “Increasingly, noncoding regions of the genome, far from being junk, are being found to have important regulatory roles in gene expression and cell function. They potentially represent a new class of target for therapeutic intervention. It is our hope that providing such models to the wide research community will speed up the discovery of new drugs to novel cancer targets such as this.”