Sigma-Aldrich (SIAL), a St. Louis, Mo.-based life science and high technology company, has entered into a new gene editing partnership with the University of Michigan (U-M) Medical School's Vector Core. Sigma-Aldrich will provide the Vector Core with Sigma CRISPR technology, experimental design consultation and dedicated gene editing bioinformaticians.
The partnership is poised to accelerate gene editing-based research at the U-M Medical School. One initiative already underway, led by assistant professor Chad Brenner, involves constructing a large library of Sigma CRISPRs for precision studies of the 100 most common genes that have dysfunctions associated with cancer. Brenner's CRISPR library is expected to support the generation of an unprecedented dataset about oncogene functions and drug resistance, leading to improved decision-making for personalized medical treatment of cancer.
"A coordinated investigation at this scale has not previously been conducted and promises to help define new therapeutic targets across multiple cancers and to improve existing cancer therapies," said Brenner. “Since CRIPSR/Cas9 can manipulate genes accurately and efficiently at a genomic scale, instead of just one or a few genes at a time, it is uniquely conducive to screening for gene networks that promote survival of cancer cells. Using this technology, we also will be able to define the genes and pathways that drive resistance to existing cancer therapies to aid in the development of more effective combination strategies for patients.”
The Vector Core's partnership with Sigma-Aldrich provides the entire U-M Medical School access to the extensive experimental design, bioinformatics and production resources that Brenner already receives from Sigma-Aldrich due to the scale of his project.
Sean Muthian, Ph.D., MBA, director of strategic marketing and collaborations at Sigma-Aldrich, said, "The Sigma-Aldrich CRISPR Core partnership helps accelerate the pace of translational research, removing the design and production hurdles with CRISPR or Zinc Finger Nucleases, hence allowing scientists to focus on their research."
"The CRISPR technology with Sigma-Aldrich has created significant buzz on campus. One reason is that CRISPRs afford creative targeting and screening possibilities throughout not just within the exome, which one can interrogate with shRNA, but within the approximately 100-fold larger intergenic region of the genome. The simple design and low cost of CRISPRs/Cas9 are essential to making it possible to generate transgenic animals that mirror complex phenotypes seen in humans, creating cell lines, building libraries and large-scale screening of gene networks involved in the pathogenesis of complex diseases," said Tom Lanigan, Ph.D., supervisor of the Vector Core at the University of Michigan Medical School.