Healthcare services provider Centene has committed up to $100m to fund research at the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis for developing personalised medicines to treat Alzheimer’s disease, breast cancer, diabetes and obesity.
Financing will span over ten years. During the project, academics will leverage research and biomedical capabilities, including CRISPR technology.
The team will include microbiome, immunomodulatory therapies, cancer genomics and neurodegeneration researchers, among others.
Washington University School of Medicine medical affairs executive vice-chancellor David Perlmutter said: “We will be bringing together world-class resources and intellectual horsepower from every basic and clinical scientific discipline to urgently accelerate the timeline for developing therapies that are more precisely targeted, with aspirations to do so in the next five to seven years.”
Perlmutter added that genome engineering technologies could contribute the most in developing personalised medicines by enabling creation of model systems of each human disease.
In addition, deep genomic and clinical characterisation is expected to facilitate more effective and less expensive clinical trials.
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Candidates resulting from the project will be commercialised through a joint venture, named ARCH Personalized Medicine Initiative, between Centene and the School of Medicine.
Centene chairman and CEO Michael Neidorff said: “We believe personalised medicine is the path to ensure patients get the targeted healthcare they need to fight disease, and we look forward to partnering with such a renowned medical school to initially focus on four diseases that impact millions of Americans, including many of our health plan members.”
The funding will also be used to support multiple centres and institutes at the School of Medicine, including Edison Family Center for Genome Sciences & Systems Biology and the Andrew M. and Jane M. Bursky Center for Human Immunology.