Cancer Research UK and AstraZeneca have announced that they are opening a new centre in Cambridge, UK, dedicated to realising the full potential of functional genomics in the discovery and development of new drugs for patients with cancer.

The centre will house academics and alliance partners working at all stages of translational research, from target discovery and validation, to assessing novel drug combinations, who will explore in more detail the function and interaction of genes and proteins in cancer, and apply new genome-altering technologies such as CRISPR, a unique technology that enables geneticists and medical researchers to edit parts of the genome, to create sophisticated models of the disease for research.

The centre will be located in the Milner Therapeutics Institute at the University of Cambridge and operationalised through Cancer Research UK’s Therapeutic Discovery Laboratories - the charity’s in-house drug discovery unit focused on establishing drug discovery alliances with industry.

“We’re delighted to collaborate with AstraZeneca on this exciting new initiative, which will give leading Cancer Research UK scientists and our alliance partners access to the latest in CRISPR technology,” said Dr Iain Foulkes, Cancer Research UK’s executive director of research and innovation.

“As we move into an era of personalised medicine, we’ve reached a turning point in our ability to harness powerful technologies in the pursuit of targeted cancer therapies. We hope that this will translate into urgently needed new therapies for patients with hard to treat cancers, such as lung, pancreatic, oesophageal and brain tumours.”