Efforts will focus on understanding cancer biology and the genetic drivers of drug resistance.
Interest in genomics as a tool for developing targeted therapies is on the rise. Earlier in 2018, GlaxoSmithKline partnered with genetic testing company 23andMe, giving the drugmaker access to a large database of genetic information that it will use to search for disease-relevant genes. Meanwhile, Regeneron established its own genetic center, Amgen acquired deCODE genetics and invested in Oxford Nanopore Technologies and Vertex is collaborating with Genomics plc.
The latest announcement comes from AstraZeneca, which is, in partnership with the charitable organization Cancer Research UK, establishing a genomic center on the campus of the University of Cambridge. The focus of the center will be on functional genomics, including the use of the CRISPR gene-editing tool, with the goal of gaining a greater understanding of cancer biology and genetic drivers of drug resistance and ultimately facilitate the development of personalized therapies.
Initial research is expected to begin on January 1, 2019, with laboratory work underway by the second half of the year. The center will be designed to develop more sophisticated and powerful biological models of disease, handle larger and more complex data sets and identify successful cancer drug targets with higher accuracy, according to professor Greg Hannon, Director of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute.