Sigma-Aldrich has partnered with the University of Michigan (UM) Medical School's Vector Core to accelerate gene editing-based research at the UM Medical School.

Vector Core will have access to Sigma-Aldrich’s CRISPR technology, experimental design consultation, and gene editing bioinformaticians. Already underway is an initiative led by UM assistant professor Chad Brenner that involves constructing a large library of Sigma CRISPRs for precision studies of the 100 most common genes that have dysfunctions associated with cancer. The company said it expects Brenner's CRISPR library to support the generation of a dataset about oncogene functions and drug resistance, which could lead to improved decision-making for personalized medical treatment of cancer.

“Since CRIPSR/Cas9 can manipulate genes accurately and efficiently at a genomic scale, instead of just one or a few genes at a time, it is uniquely conducive to screening for gene networks that promote survival of cancer cells,” said Brenner. “Using this technology, we will also be able to define the genes and pathways that drive resistance to existing cancer therapies to aid in the development of more effective combination strategies for patients.”

“The CRISPR technology with Sigma-Aldrich has created significant buzz on campus. One reason is that CRISPRs afford creative targeting and screening possibilities throughout not just within the exome, which one can interrogate with shRNA, but within the approximately 100-fold larger intergenic region of the genome,” said Tom Lanigan, Ph.D., supervisor of the Vector. “The simple design and low cost of CRISPRs/Cas9 are essential to making it possible to generate transgenic animals that mirror complex phenotypes seen in humans, creating cell lines, building libraries, and large-scale screening of gene networks involved in the pathogenesis of complex diseases.”