Broken String Biosciences to advance ALS research with Francis Crick Institute

By Isabel Cameron

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Related tags ALS neurodegenerative diseases Rare disease Research

Broken String Biosciences, a genomics company driving cell and gene therapy developing, has entered a research collaboration with the Francis Crick Institute, a biomedical discovery institute dedicated to understanding the biology underlying health and disease.

In partnership with researchers at the Crick, the project aims to develop novel applications for Broken String’s proprietary DNA break-mapping platform, INDUCE-seq, beyond its established capabilities in gene-editing.

The research will be focused on leveraging the technology to investigate the impact of genomic instability in the development of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

ALS is a progressive and debilitating neurodegenerative disease, causing gradual loss of the ability to control voluntary movements and basic bodily functions.

Felix Dobbs, CEO of Broken String Biosciences, said: “There is an unmet clinical need for effective ALS treatments, as well as strategies for earlier diagnosis that can significantly improve patient outcomes.”

“This collaboration with the Crick Institute is validation of our differentiated approach to DNA break-mapping; enabling our team to support world leading research with insights provided through our INDUCE-seq platform. It demonstrates a fantastic opportunity to apply our expertise across other key research areas to support the advancement of human health.”

The partnership is also focused on understanding the contribution of genome stability to ALS, combining the interests of Prof Simon Boulton and Dr Nishita Parnandi at the Crick focused on genome stability and DNA double-strand break (DSB).

The Broken String and Crick teams hope to further validate the INDUCE-seq technology in this research setting.

The majority of ALS cases are considered sporadic. Whilst there has been progress to better understand the genes and biological markers associated with the disease, little is understood about the causes, with current treatment strategies focused on symptom management and slowing disease progression.

Dr. Simon Boulton at the Francis Crick Institute added: “Our research is focused on exploring how cells repair damage to their DNA, and how failures in this process lead to disease. Following exploratory work with Professor Reed, we were keen to collaborate with Broken String.

“We are excited to leverage the INDUCE-seq platform’s unique capabilities in directly measuring and quantifying DNA double-strand breaks, and applying this to deepen our understanding of diseases that have genomic instability as a contributing factor, such as ALS.”

The partnership has been secured via the Francis Crick Institute’s business engagement fund, a new initiative supported by the Medical Research Council designed to encourage collaborations with small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

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