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AstraZeneca partners up with CRUK for new UK cancer drug discovery facility

Published on 10/12/18 at 12:06pm

AstraZeneca is to team up with Cancer Research UK to build a new centre of excellence for accelerating the discovery and development of new cancer drugs, leveraging genetic screening, cancer modelling, big data processes and tools such as CRISPR to better understand tumour disease and resistance mechanisms and inform more effective drug targeting.

Located in the Milner Therapeutics Institute at the University of Cambridge, the Functional Genomics Centre, as the new facilities will be known, will seek to further investigate the relationship and function of tumour genes and proteins, combining expertise from both partners to offer a “dedicated world-class resource” across all stages of translational research.  

“This new centre will be a huge asset to the UK cancer research community and will accelerate the development of new treatments for people with cancer,” remarked Professor Greg Hannon, Director of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute. “After two decades of effort, we’re making fast progress but we’re still only just beginning to tap into the full potential of CRISPR and to understand how this is applied alongside other functional genomics approaches. As we develop high-quality standardised techniques through the centre, we can create more sophisticated and powerful biological models of disease, handle larger and more complex data sets, and identify successful cancer drug targets with better accuracy.”

Academics and researchers from both partners will have independent access to the facilities, and it is expected that the centre could spur future collaboration in the field.

“We’re delighted to collaborate with AstraZeneca on this exciting new initiative, which will give leading Cancer Research UK scientists and our alliance partners access to the latest in CRISPR technology,” explained Dr Iain Foulkes, Cancer Research UK’s Executive Director of Research and Innovation. “As we move into an era of personalised medicine, we’ve reached a turning point in our ability to harness powerful technologies in the pursuit of targeted cancer therapies. We hope that this will translate into urgently needed new therapies for patients with hard to treat cancers, such as lung, pancreatic, oesophageal and brain tumours.”

Dr Mene Pangalos, AstraZeneca’s Executive Vice President, Innovative Medicines & Early Development, added: “The best science doesn’t happen in isolation which is why AstraZeneca is committed to advancing innovative science through collaboration. This new centre of excellence with Cancer Research UK will combine our expertise in functional genomics and CRISPR technology to identify new biological pathways driving disease and will accelerate the development of new cancer medicines for patients.”

Matt Fellows

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