AMRI licenses CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing tech for drug discovery

By Melissa Fassbender

- Last updated on GMT

CRISPR-Cas9 is a gene editing tool that has implications in both disease treatment and drug discovery. (Image: iStock)
CRISPR-Cas9 is a gene editing tool that has implications in both disease treatment and drug discovery. (Image: iStock)

Related tags Pharmacology Biotechnology

AMRI has entered into an agreement to license CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

Per the agreement, the global contract research and manufacturing organization will gain access to IP related to CRISPR-Cas9 technology in order to augment its drug discovery services and internal research and development.

According to AMRI, the company has already completed several client projects using CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology.

Examples of areas in which the technology will provide benefit, include protein production, cell line and assay development, high content screening and analysis, and target validation and assessment.

In the company’s announcement, released today, Christopher Conway, Senior Vice President, Discovery and Development Services at AMRI, commented that while CRISPR is known for its potential to cure disease, the applications in drug discovery are multiple.

"AMRI is using CRISPR/Cas9 technology in a number of ways to improve the drug discovery process​," Grant Carr, Ph.D., Senior Director, Lead Discovery, AMRI, told Outsourcing-Pharma.com.

Some of these include the development of enhanced cell-based models of hereditary and complex diseases, which can be used for drug development and identification of the target activity profile associated with the desired therapeutic effect in the same models.

"We have also used CRISPR/Cas9 technology in combination with the world class next generation sequencing (NGS) capabilities of the Buffalo Medical Innovation Hub to provide high throughput, selective gene knockouts in support of client drug target identification and verification efforts​," said Carr. "The capabilities provided by CRISPR/Cas9 technology are revolutionizing medical research and drug discovery​."

"AMRI is excited to provide access to this technology to the biopharmaceutical industry, in particular to start-ups and smaller biotechnology companies that might otherwise be precluded from the use of this technology​," he added.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

CRO Adoption

Interest in gene editing has grown over the past two years, with significant investments from Big Biopharma, such as AstraZeneca​ and Novartis​.

Several other entities have also already established licensing agreements for the gene-editing technology, including Evotec​, last month, and Bayer​, which announced its agreement in May of this year. 

However, CRO adoption has increased as the organizations look to explore new ways to support clients' research initiatives.

As Outsourcing-Pharma.com previously reported​, Charles River Laboratories was one of the first CROs to publically announce its licensing of the technology.

Wade Sunada, PhD, Managing Consultant at the Life Science Strategy Group, told us, "Basically, the CRISPR tech will allow faster and cheaper model creation, as well as creation of more complex research models​."

Related topics Preclinical Research Preclinical

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