The collection includes cell line clones for 3,000 different genes, which is about one-third of all the genes active in these cells. Human cell lines have been around for decades but they’re all unique, which makes them difficult to perform genetic experiments in drug discovery efforts. The Haplogen and CeMM lines are different in that they each have individual gene mutations but are otherwise identical.
Sebastian Nijman, senior author of a recent Nature Methods paper about the collection and principal investigator at CeMM, told BioPharma-Reporter that the academy hopes to get to 5000 genes by the end of the year depending on the amount of interest from academics and the industry.
“This is the first collection of its kind where the mutations are in an isogenic background,” Nijman told us, adding that biopharma companies could use the cell lines developed by he and his five colleagues in Vienna, Austria to screen for particular genes or discover the function of a gene.
“Imagine you’re looking for something that would improve the secretion of a particular protein, if you have a good assay, you can screen and find genes that enhance secretion,” he said. “Or if you’re looking for drug targets in a particular disease-relevant process, you would be able to screen through the collection to look for genes that affect this process.”
As far as how the cell lines fit in with the momentum of the rest of the industry, Nijman told us, “There are other companies that make mutant cell lines, but as far as we know, Haplogen is the only one that uses haploid cells for that purpose.
“Horizon Discovery provides mutant cell lines but our collection is significantly bigger than what they have,” he added.
Academic, biotech and pharma researchers have expressed an interest in the cell lines, Nijman said, noting that they were developed by a public-private partnership and are available to the community for a "reasonable fee" that will help maintain and grow the collection.
Giulio Superti-Furga, director of the CeMM, noted, “Obtaining human cells where an individual gene is inactivated has so far been difficult and very tedious. With this largest human cell line collection available to date we expect to drive countless scientific discoveries in the research community.”