Astra Zeneca has announced a research programme to develop a generation of medicines to treat the genetic causes of many debilitating diseases.
It will be the first concerted use of an emerging technique called Crispr to “snip out” specific disease genes in order to discover drugs.
The technique is cheaper, faster and more accurate than current methods.
The research will be carried out with four leading academic and industrial gene-research centres across the world.
AZ vice-president Dr Lorenz Mayr hopes it will speed the development of medicines for illnesses including diabetes, heart disease and many cancers
“You can’t stop the science,” he told BBC News. “It is one of the biggest developments in the area of biotechnology in decades.”
Many serious illnesses occur when genes in the human body go wrong.
The principle is simple – drug companies would “snip out” the gene responsible for the disease from the patient’s DNA, then use it to test drugs to see if they could fix the problem.
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