UK industry collaboration to advance ALS research 

Broken String Biosciences has entered a research collaboration with the Francis Crick Institute, focused on leveraging technology to investigate the impact of genomic instability in the development of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). 

The aim to achieve this is through the development of novel applications for Broken String’s proprietary DNA break-mapping platform, INDUCE-seq, beyond its established capabilities in gene editing. 

The collaboration is focused on understanding the contribution of genome stability to ALS, combining the interests of Professor Simon Boulton and Dr Nishita Parnandi at the Crick focused on genome stability and DNA double-strand break (DSB), with Professor Rickie Patani and Dr Giulia Tyzack, interested in understanding the underlying mechanism of ALS disease mechanism. The Crick and Broken String teams aim to collaborate to demonstrate and further validate the technology in this setting. 

ALS impact

Most ALS cases (~90%) are considered sporadic1. Whilst there has been progress to better understand the genes and biological markers associated with the disease, very little is understood about the causes, with current treatment strategies focused on symptom management and slowing disease progression. Combining Crick research with Broken String’s expertise and technology, the partnership will expand on a key area of clinical unmet need to support improved diagnosis and treatment of ALS. 

The partnership has been secured via the Francis Crick Institute’s Business Engagement Fund, a new initiative supported by The Medical Research Council (MRC-UKRI), that is designed to encourage collaborations with small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and strengthen the Crick’s engagement with industry.  

Dr Simon Boulton, Principal Group Leader, the Boulton Lab (DSB Repair Metabolism) at the Francis Crick Institute, said: “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.” 

Felix Dobbs PhD, CEO, Broken String Biosciences, commented: “There is an unmet clinical need for effective ALS treatments, as well as strategies for earlier diagnosis that can significantly improve patient outcomes. We look forward to working closely with Dr Boulton and Professor Patani’s groups to support this critical research area and continue building out our application focuses.” 

References 
  1. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/health-information/disorders/amyotrophic-lateral-sclerosis-als#:~:text=Changes%20in%20more%20than%20a,nerve%20cells%20in%20the%20brain

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