Horizon Receive $500,000 Grant to Model Non-inherited SNPs that may Drive Human Cancer
News Feb 19, 2010
Horizon Discovery and the University of Torino, Department of Oncological Sciences, have announced that they have been awarded a three-year Eurostars grant under the EUREKA and EU Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development.
The grant application entitled “Interrogation of Somatic and Inherited Gene-variations for Human Therapy (INSIGHT)” was ranked first amongst all applications received in the UK and Italy, and third across the entire EU.
Recent advances in high-throughput DNA-sequencing, such as those pioneered by the Sanger Centre, have given medical researchers a detailed view of the array of genetic variations capable of influencing the incidence or severity of human diseases. This is particularly true of diseases such as cancer, diabetes and the many other conditions that increasingly manifest as we age. However, much work is required to definitively link a specific genetic-marker, or combination of markers, with actual disease pre-disposition, onset, or in directing the discovery and prescription of improved ‘targeted’ or ‘personalized’ therapies.
The availability of genetically-defined and predictive in vitro human disease models has been a key missing link in achieving these goals until the development of Horizon’s proprietary AAV-virus mediated method of human genome-engineering (GENESIS™). GENESIS allows stable alteration of any endogenous gene in a human cell-line to create a wide array of disease model types.
The ‘INSIGHT’ program will explore a novel class of inherited and somatic non-coding mutations associated with cancer causation. Once their biological role and mechanisms in cancer have been confirmed or elucidated, these disease models will be made available to the wider research community and profiled (by Horizon) for all known existing cancer drugs that may target these cancer genetic variations, to discover potential new therapeutic options for patients.
Horizon will perform the in vitro gene engineering and drug screening; and Professor Alberto Bardelli will identify other cancer associated SNPs for modeling. Professor Bardelli is a leader in the field of cancer genetics and therapy and his work is actively leading to the adoption of new and more effective ‘Personalized Medicine’ strategies by pharmaceutical companies and healthcare agencies; in particular his landmark research recently linking mutant K-Ras and other genetic mutations to resistance to novel EGFR-targeted therapies in colon cancer.
The grant which begins in March 2010 is spread over a period of three years and will contribute toward a $1,000,000 program of work that will lead to the marketing by Horizon of a panel of new patient relevant X-MAN™ disease models and the co-ownership of new inventions that will be commercialized via Horizon.