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£90k awarded to develop functional genomics screens from 3Rs technologies

Two scientists inspect a microscope slide being held up to the light

Two grants have been awarded under our Technologies to Tools (T2T) scheme to support collaborative projects between the Milner Therapeutics Institute (MTI) and NC3Rs-funded researchers.

The awards will support the translation of NC3Rs-funded cell-based models of disease for functional genomic screens that can be applied more confidently in industry to identify and validate potential new therapeutic targets.

The T2T funding scheme is an important mechanism to maximise the 3Rs impact of new models and tools by accelerating their uptake by industry. It offers NC3Rs grant holders the opportunity to develop a collaborative project with the MTI and apply their CRISPR gene editing approaches to create human-relevant models of disease for drug development. Each award is complemented with matched in-kind contributions from the MTI, including access to their functional genomics facilities, expertise and industry networks.

Dr Anthony Holmes, NC3Rs Director of Science and Technology, said: “These awards will help increase the reach and impact of NC3Rs-funded project outputs and have the potential to support the pharmaceutical industry in identifying new disease targets in human model systems. There is still much work to be done to get to that stage, but by applying MTI’s functional genomics capabilities to models we have funded the development of, we hope to accelerate that process and maximise the 3Rs impacts of our investment.

Dr Nicola McCarthy, MTI Interim Director, said: “We are excited to be working with leading UK academics who have previously worked with NC3Rs to develop the next generation of in vitro human disease models, thereby reducing the reliance on animal models. Building on the knowledge and expertise of our academic partners, we will assess whether these disease models can be extended for use in high throughput genetic screens. Importantly, the MTI will work with our 12 Consortium pharma partners to understand the assay conditions and outcomes that could lead to the adoption of these models into industry R&D workflows.”

Awarded projects

  • Adopting ClonoScreen-3D, a high-performance 3D drug-radiation screening platform for CRISPR campaigns towards the identification of novel targets for radiosensitisation in glioblastoma: building on the model developed by Professor Anthony Chalmers and Dr Maria de la Natividad Gomez-Roman, this project was awarded £46,913 to develop a high-throughput screen to investigate whether specific genetic alterations in brain cells lead to radiotherapy resistance in brain cancer.

  • Assessment of an in vitro acute lymphoblastic leukaemia model for high-throughput arrayed CRISPR screening: utilising the technology developed by Dr Deepali Pal, this project was awarded £42,268, aiming to identify gene pathways by which leukaemia cells interact with bone marrow cells, and how these interactions might contribute to drug resistance.

Discover more awards funded through our T2T scheme on our portfolio pages.