Hera BioLabs, a Lexington based contract research organization (CRO), announced today a patent license and Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). The agreement is centered around a technology that uses a protein from fireflies called Luciferase, to image the activity of drugs and other chemicals in biological systems such as cell lines.
“By combining our proprietary gene editing approach with the Luciferase technology we can create a rapid, cost-effective method for toxicity testing and screening” said Jack Crawford CEO of Hera BioLabs. When a drug causes toxicity certain response genes are turned on. With molecular scissors, such as CRISPR/Cas, Hera will place the firefly Luciferase within the toxicity responsive genes so that when they are activated the cells light up like a firefly to create a highly sensitive tool for identifying drugs which could be toxic. Hera refers to their methods as Precision Toxicology™. “This approach can be utilized to create toxicity response cell lines for nearly any application, we will focus on liver and brain toxicity” said Crawford. Hera will be offering the reporter cell lines and services to scientists and pharmaceutical researchers.
Hera BioLabs is a new toxicology CRO which was spun out of the gene editing company Transposagen Biopharmaceuticals. Hera is a pioneer in Precision Toxicology™ – generating high-confidence, clinically-relevant toxicology profiles with greater predictability by utilizing precisely gene-edited models. Hera is located in Lexington KY where it will soon be completing the buildout of a brand new facility to offer contract research services.
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