Base editing
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Diagnostics and life sciences company Revvity announced today that it has secured a non-exclusive license with AstraZeneca for the use of technology underlying its Pin-point single strand base editing system to support its gene editing activities.

“Our fundamental goal for the Pin-point platform is to translate the technology from pre-clinical research into the clinic, and ultimately, impact patient lives,” said Alan Fletcher, senior vice president, Life Sciences at Revvity. “In that vein, we are delighted to announce this non-exclusive agreement with AstraZeneca to support their creation of cell therapies for the treatment of cancer and immune-mediated diseases.”

The Pin-point gene editing system was acquired in 2020 via the $383 million purchase of Horizon Discovery by PerkinElmer, which was renamed Revvity earlier this month as it has completed it transformation into a company squarely focused on medical technology for the pharmaceutical and diagnostics industry.

According to Revvity, the gene editing technology can perform precise single and multiplex gene editing without off-target impacts to cell viability and functionality. Touted as a “next-generation” gene editing method, Pin-point differs from CRISPR gene editing technologies which create double-stranded breaks in DNA to replace targeted regions. Pin-point instead uses a modified Cas enzyme that only nicks one strand of the DNA, allowing for a more precise approach gene disruption and base modification and making it safer for therapeutic applications.

“In addition to reducing the risk of insertions, deletions, and other rearrangements, this single nick increases the base conversion efficiency,” Revvity notes on their website.

Base-editing as an approach to the development of gene therapies has been steadily gaining traction over the past few years, as pharmaceutical companies look to avoid some of the complications that are common from gene editing that is accomplished via double strand breaks. Commenting in a base editing report published in Inside Precision Medicine’s sister publication Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News in 2021, Jennifer Harbottle, PhD, then a part of PerkinElmer’s Horizon Discovery division, noted that the company was focusing on using the Pin-point base editing technology “on next-generation cell therapies because you can manipulate the cells ex vivo.”

The intent is to create an effective method of creating precision cell therapies by simplifying the standardization of safe and effective delivery methods. Harbottle, who is now an associate director scientist at AstraZeneca, noted in the GEN report that her work with the technology focused on knocking out checkpoint inhibitors in engineered T cells to improve their performance for treating cancer.

“This is where the beauty of base editing comes into play, Harbottle explains. “We’re able to knock out lots of genes at once without generating off-target effects or at least without generating indels,” Harbottle said.

In addition, the company noted that it has developed a proprietary method to leverage the same mechanism to insert genes, citing as an example the creation of an allogeneic CAR-T cell therapy created by knocking in a CAR while simultaneously knocking out immune markers.

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