Milner Therapeutics to establish new genomics laboratory for drug discovery

The new state-of-the-art facility is set to be operational in early 2024

The University of Cambridge’s Milner Therapeutics Institute (MTI) has announced the establishment of a new world-class genomics laboratory to accelerate drug discovery.

In partnership with AstraZeneca (AZ) and the Medical Research Council (MRC), the state-of-the-art laboratory will be operational in early 2024.

Set to become part of the MRC’s Human Functional Genomics Initiative, the new establishment will support the Life Sciences Vision to support research and innovation in functional genomics and will contribute to the UK’s genomic healthcare system.

Functional genomics investigates the effects and impacts of genetic changes in DNA and how they contribute to disease.

CRISPR, a gene editing platform that provides insights into the relationships between genes and diseases, tests specific DNA alterations to investigate the impacts of genetic changes.

By discovering these drivers of disease, researchers are one step closer to identifying life-changing medicines for patients.

Combining academia and business to accelerate the development of new drug therapies, the new facility will provide UK researchers with access to large-scale biological and technological tools, including an advanced automated arrayed-CRISPR screening platform.

Furthermore, it aims to provide scientists with new opportunities to develop therapies for chronic diseases, including cardiovascular, respiratory and metabolic diseases.

The MTI, AZ and the MRC’s Human Functional Genomics Initiative will combine facilities, resources and knowledge to facilitate faster progress and innovations.

The partnership builds on an existing collaboration between AZ, the MTI and Cancer Research Horizons, known as the Joint AstraZeneca-Cancer Research Horizon Functional Genomics Centre, which was formed in 2018 to advance oncology research.

Professor Tony Kouzarides, director of the MTI, said: “This [partnership] will enable [the] sharing of expertise and resources to deliver new diagnostics and treatments for people with chronic diseases.”

Professor Andy Neely, pro-vice-chancellor for enterprise and business relations, University of Cambridge, said: “This new collaboration [will]… drive forward science that will have a real impact on people’s health in the UK and around the world.”

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