Horizon Discovery, a global provider of gene editing and gene modulation technologies, has expanded its functional genomic screening portfolio to include first-to-market CRISPRi (interference) and CRISPRa (activation) screening services.
Although functional genomic screening using CRISPR gene knockout technology has provided a powerful and precise way to identify and validate novel drug targets, and to elucidate unknown drug mechanisms, there are some biological studies for which CRISPR knockout screens are not appropriate. Horizon’s novel CRISPRi/CRISPRa screening platform substantially broadens the range of possible studies through the capacity to reduce or increase, rather than completely eliminating gene expression. This enables customers to address critical gaps in target ID and validation as they work to develop novel and more effective drug therapies.
Horizon’s CRISPRi and CRISPRa screening capabilities are based on the company’s highly optimised CRISPR knockout screening platform, which has been used in over 200 screens to date including for five of the top 20 pharma. Using multiple parallel analytical approaches, sophisticated bioinformatics enable clear hit identification from data of outstanding quality, driving the performance of Horizon’s CRISPRi and CRISPRa platforms to show a 10-fold better performance over previously published platforms. Horizon’s customers are already adopting CRISPRi and CRISPRa screening, with the first commercial projects currently underway. Each project is customised according to customer need, offering different types of screens and readouts, and a comprehensive report on conclusion.
Horizon has also developed an enhanced solution that combines both CRISPRi and CRISPRa screening, providing greater confidence in hits identified in genome-wide screens. This combined solution can reveal ‘switch’ like genes that display opposing effects when activated or inhibited in the presence of the drug of interest, bringing the prospect of unambiguous target discovery closer.
Dr. Darrin M Disley, CEO Horizon Discovery, said, “CRISPRi and CRISPRa screening are powerful additions to Horizon’s best-in-class CRISPR knockout screening platform, and demonstrate our leadership in functional genomic screening. These first-to-market platforms will open new, exciting opportunities to identify and validate new drug targets and better understand drug mechanisms to advance our pharmaceutical and biotech customers’ discovery and drug development programmes.
“As a result of Horizon’s recent acquisition of Dharmacon, CRISPRi and CRISPRa screening is now part of a unique mixed product and service portfolio that extends Horizon’s capacity to generate the highest quality data, giving customers the highest level of confidence in their results. Further, non-proprietary insights gained by Horizon during the project can then be fed back into the development of future libraries in a process of continuous improvement.”