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Abcam acquires gene-editing platform from US biotech Applied StemCell

Abcam is expanding its off-the-shelf offering of edited cell lines with its latest acquisition.

The Cambridge Biomedical Campus-based company has bought the gene-editing platform and oncology product portfolio of US biotech Applied StemCell (ASC).

Inside Abcam. Picture: Keith Heppell
Inside Abcam. Picture: Keith Heppell

Cheri Walker, SVP of corporate development at Abcam, said: “We are excited to expand and cement Abcam’s position in the edited cell line market, bringing in one of the most widely deployed and technically successful cell engineering platforms into the Abcam family.

“The cell line market is in the early stages of development as a research tool, where the ready provision of more choice, with the right gene targets in the right cell lines, will allow the market to rapidly expand.”

ASC has been building its reputation in knock-out and knock-in cell line development for 11 years, using its platform to help the life science and diagnostic industries to tackle a wide range of diseases, while aiding drug discovery.

Ready-made knock-out cell lines are used by researchers to explore biological pathways and disease models.

Included in the deal is a portfolio of cell lines and the AccuRef reference materials product line. This uses ASC gene edited cell lines to mimic cancer mutations and create biologically-relevant quality control and reference standards that span more than 40 cancer genes.

Laboratories and kit providers use these for next generation sequencing, Sanger sequencing, PCR and FISH/CISH testing.

Abcam said it will expand the ASC platform to become its discovery engine for developing novel edited cell lines.

Abcam's headquarters on Cambridge Biomedical Campus
Abcam's headquarters on Cambridge Biomedical Campus

The company said it builds upon its range of knock-out cell lines acquired through last year’s Edigene transaction.

Ruby Tsai, co-founder and CSO at Applied StemCell, said: “Following our strategic decision to focus on stem cell and derivative service and products for both research and therapeutic applications, we are pleased to be transitioning our oncology focused services and products to the global team at Abcam.

“As recognised industry leaders in the provision of biologic reagents and tools, Abcam is ideally placed to provide expert support to our global user-base.”

The companies said they would collaborate during a transition period to ensure continuity of service. Abcam said the portfolio and cell engineering capability would support its knock-out validation project, which is a key part of its antibody quality initiative.

Last year, Abcam aborted its attempt to acquire Waterbeach-based gene-editing specialist Horizon Discovery.

In January, it completed its acquisition of Expedeon’s immunology and proteomics business for 120 million euros.

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