AZ and Cancer Research launching Functional Genomics Centre

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AstraZeneca and Cancer Research UK will together launch a centre of excellence in genetic screening, cancer modelling and big data processing aimed at accelerating the discovery of new cancer medicines.

The Functional Genomics Centre will further develop CRISPR technology to better understand the biology of cancer, creating biological models that may be more reflective of human disease, and advancing computational approaches to better analyse big datasets.

These approaches are designed to inform new druggable targets in oncology by using clinical insights to better understand tumour disease and resistance mechanisms.

Functional genomics aims to understand the complex relationship between genetic changes happening within DNA and how these translate to cellular changes in disease. Knowing the functional genomic drivers of disease enables scientists to more accurately select the right drug targets and increases the probability of success in the clinic.

Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice President, Innovative Medicines & Early Development, AstraZeneca, said: “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.”

Dr Iain Foulkes, Cancer Research UK’s Executive Director of Research and Innovation, added: “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.”

The Functional Genomics Centre will be located at the Milner Therapeutics Institute at the University of Cambridge.

AstraZeneca and Cancer Research UK will have independent use of the Centre’s facilities, and their scientists will work alongside each other to facilitate collaboration, technical innovation and scientific progress.