Horizon Discovery and LGC have been offered a research grant of £360,224 ($608,000) by the Technology Strategy Board, the U.K.’s innovation agency. The grant is awarded under the board’s collaborative research and development project “Improving Cell and Tissue Analysis for Stratified Medicine” and will fund a joint project run by the company’s Horizon Diagnostics division in partnership with LGC. Horizon will receive more than half of the funding.

The program will establish methods and cross platform datasets to standardize existing liquid biopsy genetic diagnostic tests to determine test sensitivity and to help drive the development of more sensitive systems as well as training and proficiency testing schemes for pathology laboratories.

Horizon will use its gene editing expertise and GENESIS™ platform (comprising rAAV, CRISPR/Cas9, and ZFN technologies) to engineer cell lines carrying cancer genetic markers. These cell lines will be used to generate reference standard material including formalin-fixed paraffin embedded cell blocks and genomic DNA. LGC, which is the U.K.’s designated National Measurement Institute for chemical and bioanalytical measurement, is developing methods using digital PCR for accurate value assignment of reference materials and will test the reference standard material produced by Horizon. LGC is also developing these methods to detect tumor DNA in the bloodstream.

“Horizon is committed to investing in new, innovative areas related to cancer and diagnostics, supporting the increased implementation of stratified and personalized intervention strategies,” said Paul Morrill, Ph.D., senior vice president of Reagent Products at Horizon.

“The combination of Horizon’s reference materials and LGC’s assays—PCR primers and probes—gives the potential for development of kits that clinical laboratories can use with their existing platforms,” said Carole Foy, principal scientist from LGC’s molecular and cell biology department. “These standardization tools will be invaluable in ensuring the accuracy of the results when detecting tumor DNA in the bloodstream.”

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