Horizon Discovery (Horizon) has announced that it has joined the EU-FP7 funded ‘4D Cell Fate’ consortium, whose aim is to shed light on how stem cell re-programming and differentiation is regulated at the epigenetic level.
As a member of the consortium, Horizon will generate cell lines harboring endogenous pathway reporter genes and labeled versions of specific epigenetic target proteins to study their function.
Commercialization of the output of the program will be governed by a consortium agreement defined by EU regulation.
4D Cell Fate brings together 12 groups from nine countries, including academics, research-intensive SMEs, and Pharma, each an international leader in its field, combining expertise in a wide range of cutting-edge technologies and scientific approaches.
The aim of the 4D Cell Fate project, which is currently funded for five years, is to establish an integrated approach to explore the structure and function of the large multi-protein epigenetic complexes that are involved in control of stem cell self-renewal, lineage commitment, and differentiation.
Horizon will use its proprietary virally-mediated gene-engineering technology, GENESIS™, to alter endogenous genes in hES cells (e.g. via tagging with GFP and HaloTag® technologies) with unprecedented accuracy and precision.
By gaining a greater insight into how Polycomb Repressive Complexes (PRCs), and Nucleosome Remodeling and Deacetylation complexes (NuRD) control stem cell differentiation, it is hoped that better methods will be identified to generate ethical sources of ‘iPS’ cells and direct the fate of stem cells into the many forms of specific tissue types that are needed for disease therapy.
“Generating stem cells and differentiated cell types with greater precision, definition and safety are essential for delivering on the great promise that stem cell-based therapies could bring to many disease areas. Horizon’s genome editing technology will play a pivotal role in helping to dissect key biological pathways in the fate of stem cells as part of the 4D Cell Fate project. Through this process, new and important approaches to disease therapy will be determined,” commented Dr Chris Torrance, CSO of Horizon.
Dr Darrin Disley, CEO, Horizon, said: “Our company has a commitment to active involvement in cutting-edge research with leading experts in translational fields, including bringing the power of rAAV-mediated gene targeting technology to the 4D Cell Fate project.”