Genetically modified organisms

Our use of genetically modified organisms helps us to understand better how some genes can cause disease and what might be done to prevent them. It’s an important part of our search for new and improved medicines.

The genetically modified organisms we use include animals (transgenic mice and zebra fish) and micro-organisms (including viruses, bacteria, fungi, such as yeast, and genetically modified animal and human cells. In some cases the GM human cells may be derived from human embryonic stem cells. Genetically modified animals form a small part of our overall use of animals.

The use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) makes it possible to modify the characteristics of cells and to obtain highly purified recombinant proteins. These GMOs and proteins can then be used to help identify factors that cause human disease through a better understanding of the role that genes and their associated proteins play. They can also be used to develop and test new medicines.

We also use GMOs in our biopharmaceutical activities in the discovery, development and manufacture of medicines derived from biological molecules, for example antibodies (proteins produced by living organisms in response to disease, but which can also be manufactured using new technologies involving recombinant cells).

All our use of GMOs is conducted in accordance with national and international legislation, with our own rigorous internal policy and biosafety compliance framework governing their use, storage and disposal, and with the high ethical standards outlined in our Bioethics Policy and Code of Conduct. All staff who work with GMOs are scientifically qualified and are trained and competent in these areas of research. We require any third parties using GMOs on our behalf to apply standards that are consistent with our own.

What's next in this section

Human biological samples

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Biosafety & Biosecurity

We have strict standards and procedures in place to manage the risk wherever biohazardous materials are handled.

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