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Gene-Editing Pioneers to Join With Glaxo in Hunt for Novel Drugs

Pioneers in the field of gene-editing technology will collaborate with one of the world’s biggest drugmakers on accelerating the search for new medicines using the promising tool known as Crispr.

University of California scientists led by Crispr co-inventor Jennifer Doudna will join GlaxoSmithKline Plc in a five-year partnership aimed at cancer, the immune system and neuroscience. The U.K. pharma company said Thursday that it will contribute as much as $67 million to set up a new lab in San Francisco that will bring researchers from big pharma and academia together under one roof.

Heralded as a revolutionary approach to tackling diseases caused by defective genes, Crispr allows scientists to snip out sections of DNA and replace them with new genetic instructions. The project is a sign of Glaxo’s revamped strategy and increasing focus on cutting-edge technologies with Hal Barron, a former executive at biotech firm Genentech, now steering its research efforts.

The goal is to use Crispr to find novel targets for potential drugs “at a pace previously thought impossible,” Barron told reporters on a conference call. The tool is “probably one of the most important technologies of our time.”




UC Berkeley



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