Improving minimally invasive circulating DNA diagnostic assays supports implementation of stratified and personalized intervention strategies.
Horizon Discovery and LGC awarded grant for next generation cancer diagnostics
Horizon Discovery™ Group plc (LSE: HZD), the international life science company supplying research tools to organizations engaged in genomics research and the development of personalized medicines, today announces, together with LGC, an international life sciences measurement and testing company, that they have been offered a research grant of £360,224 ($608,000 USD) by the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board, of which Horizon will receive more than half of the funding. The grant is awarded under the Technology Strategy Board’s Collaborative Research and Development (CR&D) project ‘Improving Cell and Tissue Analysis for Stratified Medicine’ and will fund a joint project run by the Company’s Horizon Diagnostics division in partnership with LGC.
The project will fund the research and development of a portfolio of novel reference standard materials in order to serve a high need area of clinical diagnostics. The program will establish methods and cross platform data sets to standardize existing ‘liquid biopsy’ genetic diagnostic tests, to determine test sensitivity, and to help drive the development of new more sensitive systems as well as training and proficiency testing schemes for pathology laboratories.
Minimally invasive ‘liquid biopsies’ of tumor cells and tumor DNA from the bloodstream can enable earlier primary and secondary diagnosis compared to solid tumor biopsies, as well as detection of metastasis and/or residual disease, and ‘real time’ monitoring of treatment effectiveness that isn’t possible with solid biopsy methods. Standardization within and between facilities and across geographies will enable the uptake of minimally invasive cancer diagnostics as a routine clinical procedure.
Advances in next generation sequencing (NGS) and digital PCR (dPCR) are driving the next generation of genomic and genetic cancer diagnostics, however the practical application and validation of these diagnostic tests in the clinic requires availability of reproducible, reliable reference standard material. Currently used ‘standards’ actually have a high degree of variability and heterogeneity as they are based on clinical samples, tumor-derived research cell lines, or ‘home-brew’ kits using plasmid DNA, and therefore do not allow comparisons between operators, platforms or labs.
Horizon will use its gene editing expertise and GENESIS™ platform (comprising rAAV, CRISPR/Cas9 and ZFN technologies) to precisely engineer cell lines carrying cancer genetic markers. These cell lines will be used to generate reference standard material including formalin-fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) cell blocks and genomic DNA (gDNA). LGC, which is the UK’s designated National Measurement Institute (NMI) for chemical and bioanalytical measurement, is developing methods using digital PCR for accurate value assignment of reference materials, and will test the reference standard material produced by Horizon. LGC is also developing these methods for highly accurate and sensitive detection of tumor DNA in the bloodstream.
Dr Paul Morrill, Senior Vice President of Reagent Products, Horizon commented: “We are delighted to receive this grant from the Technology Strategy Board that will enable Horizon, in partnership with LGC, to continue to drive developments in the cancer diagnostics field. Horizon is committed to investing in new, innovative areas related to cancer and diagnostics, supporting the increased implementation of stratified and personalized intervention strategies.”
Carole Foy, Principal Scientist from LGC’s Molecular and Cell Biology department, added: “The combination of Horizon’s reference materials and LGC’s assays – PCR primers and probes – gives the potential for development of kits that clinical laboratories can use with their existing platforms. These standardization tools will be invaluable in ensuring the accuracy of the results when detecting tumor DNA in the bloodstream.”
About Horizon Discovery
Horizon is a revenue-generating life science company supplying research tools to organizations engaged in genomics research and the development of personalized medicines. Horizon has a diverse and international customer base approaching 800 organizations, including major pharmaceutical, biotechnology and diagnostic companies as well as leading academic research centers. The Company supplies its products and services into multiple markets, estimated to total in excess of £29 billion by 2015.
Horizon’s core capabilities are built around its proprietary translational genomics platform, GENESIS™, a high-precision and flexible suite of gene editing tools able to alter almost any endogenous gene sequence of human or mammalian cell-lines. Horizon has applied GENESIS™ to create over 550 X-MAN™ cell lines, accurately modeling the disease-causing mutations found in genetically based diseases. These ‘patients-in-a-test-tube’ are being used by customers to identify the effect of individual or compound genetic mutations on drug activity, patient responsiveness, and resistance, which may lead to the successful prediction of which patient sub-groups will respond to currently available and future drug treatments.
In addition, Horizon provides GENASSIST™ CRISPR and rAAV gene editing tools, custom cell line generation services for research and bioproduction applications, quantitative molecular reference standards, contract research and custom screening services, haploid cell lines (through Horizon’s partner Haplogen), and custom shRNA development services and off-the-shelf validated shRNA (through Horizon’s partner Sirion).
Horizon is headquartered in Cambridge, UK, and is listed on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM market under the ticker “HZD”, for further information please visit: www.horizondiscovery.com
LGC is an international life sciences measurement and testing company, which builds upon leading positions in sustainably growing markets. LGC provides reference materials, proficiency testing, genomics and analytical products and services which underpin the safety, health and security of the public to customers in the Pharmaceutical, Agricultural Bioscience, Food and Environment, Government and Academia, Security and Sports markets.
With headquarters in Teddington, South West London, LGC employs over 2,000 staff, operating out of 22 countries worldwide. Its operations are extensively accredited to international quality standards such as ISO/IEC 17025 and ISO Guide 34.
With a history dating back to 1842, LGC has been home to the UK Government Chemist for more than 100 years. It is the designated UK National Measurement Institute for Chemical and Bioanalytical measurement, providing metrology research, calibration and testing. LGC was privatised in 1996 and is now majority-owned by funds managed by Bridgepoint.
About the Technology Strategy Board (TSB)
The Technology Strategy Board is the UK’s innovation agency. Its goal is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation. Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Technology Strategy Board brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy. For more information please visit www.innovateuk.org.
As the UK’s innovation agency, one of the main roles of the Technology Strategy Board is to achieve business and economic growth for the UK. One way the organisation supports this is through funding innovative Collaborative Research and Development (CR&D) projects. Collaborative research and development (R&D) encourages businesses and researchers to work together on innovative projects in strategically important areas of science, engineering and technology – from which successful new products, processes and services can emerge, contributing to business and economic growth. Find out more about the CR&D programme here: https://www.innovateuk.org/-/collaborative-r-d
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Horizon Discovery Group plc, a UK headquartered global life science company, is a world leader in gene editing and gene modulation.