This article from BBC News describes UK drug company AstraZeneca’s latest drug discovery mission – making medicines for genetic diseases from the human genome.
AZ plan to use the technique Crispr to remove certain genes from patients in order to develop drugs to treat their diseases.
There has been a long wait for this sort of project, ever since the Human Genome Project over 10 years ago was hailed as the answer to all geneticists and biotechnologists problems. The project gave the world a plethora of information about the human genome, but using that information to society’s advantage has proven a difficult and costly process. We know what the genome contains, but how do we use it to help the human race in the future?
That’s where Crispr comes in. It allows scientists to remove and edit parts of the human genome, and is cheaper and faster than many techniques currently in use.
A detailed description of Crispr and how it works can be found here on the New York Times website.
It’s certainly an intriguing and exciting piece of technology, and has already been used by researchers at the University of Cambridge to alter the genes responsible for cystic fibrosis.
It’s still early days for this innovative new project, and AZ are joining forces with several academic institutions to attempt to bring these dreams into reality. Perhaps our traditional methods of drug discovery we’ve known and gotten used to are about to change forever.