Yesterday morning the gene-editing company Horizon Discovery, better known as Horizon, announced that they would be entering an exclusive partnership with Rutgers to develop a new technology to edit genes known as base editing, according to Business Wire.
“Gene-editing technology has truly revolutionized how scientists think about their search for better options and outcomes in the treatment of disease. We look forward to advancing the shared goals of further developing this novel base editing platform and improving human health through this collaboration with Horizon," said David Kimball, interim senior vice president for Research and Economic Development.
The technology has the potential to be applied to the development of new cell therapies. It will also increase the amount of Horizon's research tools and services.
"Base editing is potentially transformative for all gene-editing technologies with the potential to help target many diseases that to date have no treatment. As a world leader in the field of gene editing and gene modulation, both in research and applied markets, we are very excited to partner with Dr. (Shengkan "Victor") Jin and Rutgers University," said Terry Pizzie, the CEO of Horizon.
In collaboration with the University, Horizon plans to operate in the laboratory of Jin, an associate professor of pharmacology at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. The company has already made payments to Rutgers for the option to be given the authority to exclusively own the base-editing technology, to be used in its therapeutic applications.
Horizon has also agreed to fund further research in base editing for Rutgers, and will then be undertaking evaluation and proof of concept study, or a demonstration of the technology's feasibility.
Base editing is a new type of technology platform for engineering DNA or genes in cells, allowing bases, the name of the smaller components of DNA, to be converted to another without requiring breaks in the double-stranded DNA. It has the potential to correct any genetic errors or mutations by modifying genes using protein molecules. Other gene-editing methods, such as CRISPR/Cas9, creates cuts in the gene. These breaks can cause negative effects, while base editing would be both more accurate and reduce changes in genes.
"The potential is enormous. In addition to the ‘simple’ diseases caused by a single genetic alteration event, the therapeutic strategy, in principle, could also be useful for treating diseases where permanently targeting a disease-related gene is beneficial,” Jin said.