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Partnering for production
CAMBRIDGE, U.K.—In October, Horizon Discovery Group plc, which specializes in the application of gene- editing technologies, announced a new licensing agreement with an unnamed commercial partner for access to Horizon bioproduction cell lines.
The subscription deal, which is valued at a minimum of £500,000, is a novel licensing model that enables early access over a five-year period to bioproduction cell line innovations and immediate use of Horizon’s GS Null CHO K1 bioproduction cell line for drug manufacturing. The collaboration will allow the partner to license, via the subscription, any follow-on cell lines developed as part of the program at a 50- percent discount within a five-year period. The minimum fee will be paid up front, with a significant amount to be recognized in fiscal year 2016.
The license deal follows an evaluation period initiated in the fourth quarter of 2015. It reflects the partner’s confidence that Horizon will provide a number of additional cell lines over the next five years, leading to significant efficiency improvements in its biomanufacturing capability, according to the company.
“Horizon continues to be a disruptive influence in the bioproduction arena, using technical and commercial innovation to accelerate advancements in drug manufacturing,” said Dr. Darrin Disley, CEO of Horizon Discovery Group. “This new announcement further validates our approach, with our partner demonstrating confidence by making a five-year commitment via subscription model to the program. We look forward to making further announcements in this area as Horizon continues its momentum as a key player in the bioproduction space.”
In November, Horizon Discovery said that its continued collaboration with CareDx Inc. was another deal that clearly validates its model. Disley explained that Horizon makes cell lines that can be used to stand in for real patient samples, and firms developing assays and research tools can utilize them. The agreement is to supply what Horizon calls “cell-free DNA-based molecular reference standards” to CareDx as part of the latter’s research into transplanted organ rejection.
“It’s an important area as often patients’ own samples are not available or consistent enough for reliable usage,” explained Chris Claxton, the firm’s vice president for investor relations and corporate relations. “It provides an initial revenue stream to start with and the potential that groups like CareDX will continue to use them as a partner longer term. We are looking to do many CareDxs. We’re looking to layer on many, many revenue streams, not just from a single organization.”
Protein therapeutics represent a significant share of the top 50 drugs globally and are increasingly present in developmental pipelines. The provision and licensing of bioproduction cells for their manufacture, however, can be cost-prohibitive, especially for smaller organizations, and are often tied to long-term revenue-based licensing terms.
Horizon was founded by Dr. Chris Torrance and Prof. Alberto Bardelli in 2007 when they came across a seminal discovery by Prof. David Russell that certain forms of adeno-associated virus (AAV) were more than 1,000 times more efficient at gene-targeting in human somatic cell-types than plasmid-based methods. Horizon designs and engineers genetically modified cells and uses them in research and clinical applications to advance human health worldwide. Its core capabilities are built around its proprietary transnational genomics platform, a suite of gene-editing tools such as rAAV, ZFN, and CRISPR to alter almost any gene sequence in human or mammalian cell-lines.