Collaboration will combine X-Man technology with genome-wide screens.

Horizon Discovery is teaming up with Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) scientists in the U.K. to hunt for novel cancer drug targets. The collaboration will combine the ICR genome-wide functional genomics expertise with Horizon’s panel of genetically defined X-Man cancer models and matched controls for genome-wide functional genomics studies designed to pinpoint genes that can be targeted to trigger cancer cell death.

The partnership will benefit from the expertise of an ICR team helmed by Alan Ashworth, Ph.D., who leads the gene function team at the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre. Horizon says Professor Ashworth has previously demonstrated the concept of ‘synthetic lethality’ through the discovery that PARP-inhibitors are selective for breast cancers carrying mutant BRCA genes.

The overall aim of the partnership is to build up a high-throughput synthetic lethality screening platform based on pooled short hairpin RNA libraries and deep sequencing technologies. Horizon explains that by using the X-Man isogenic cell lines in these screens, the researchers hope to identify genomic targets for specific cancers. The technology could also be exploited through partnerships with industrial partners looking to identify new targets and biomarkers for specific cohorts of patients.

“We are proud to be working with Alan’s lab to build up a comprehensive picture of synthetically lethal targets, which have proven ability to effectively attack cancer at its causative roots,” comments Chris Torrance, Ph.D., Horizon’s CEO. “Moreover, we will use the X-Man models to more effectively deconstruct the many important cancer genotypes for which conventional pharma drug discovery pipelines have still not yielded viable drug candidates or targets, such as mutant K-Ras and p53.”

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