Horizon Lines up $Multi Million Cancer Drug Boom

Cambridge based personalised medicines trailblazer Horizon Discovery is at the heart of a triple global alliance designed to identify and validate a panel of novel cancer drug targets.

The UK pioneer is partnering US biopharma company H3 Biomedicine Inc in the venture. And Japanese giant Eisai, which has its European Knowledge Centre in Hatfield, will conduct any resulting clinical trials.While the specific financial terms of the agreement are undisclosed, comparative target validation deals in the sector would suggest that a potential return of $20m-$30m could be achievable.

It will be the first of many deals of substantial magnitude in the coming year – one of the chief reasons Horizon was recently named Business Weekly’s ‘Company of the Year’.

The deal gives H3 Biomedicine an exclusive option to acquire ownership of all program assets and intellectual property that relates to each of the target programs, with the exception of Horizon background IP.

Horizon will retain commercial rights over any target program not optioned by H3 Biomedicine. Horizon will receive an initial upfront investment, with additional payments as pre-clinical and clinical milestones are reached.

The capabilities of the major partners in the UK-US cancer venture are hugely synergistic. Horizon is a leading provider of research tools to support the development of personalised medicines and H3 specialises in the discovery and development of oncology treatments.

H3 Biomedicine integrates human cancer genomics with next-generation synthetic organic chemistry and tumour biology capabilities to generate a large library of novel small-molecule drugs to treat cancer.

Horizon will work with H3 to perform target-validation experiments identifying critical cancer genome targets whose modulation will have meaningful clinical effect.

H3 Biomedicine will carry out early target discovery through pre-clinical research, while Horizon will implement its three core drug discovery tools to run alongside and support H3’s discovery biology and chemistry assets and capabilities.

The goal is to rapidly come to definitive decisions on whether or not to progress novel targets into development. Eisai Inc., which is partnered with H3 Biomedicine, will conduct any resulting clinical trials.

Horizon’s discovery tools comprise: rAAV-mediated genome editing (GENESIS???) for precision functional genomics (endogenous gene knock-in and knock-outs); an expanding panel of 400+ X-MAN??? (Mutant And Normal) human isogenic cell lines that model specific target patient genetics and their matched normal genetic backgrounds; extensive cell-based assay development and drug profiling experience.

CEO Dr Darrin Disley, said: “Horizon and H3 Biomedicine share a common belief that systematically validating mutant genes with clear roles in cancer evolution may help yield rapidly translatable targets and drugs with greater clinical significance.

“We believe Horizon’s precision genome editing technology, X-MAN disease models and drug profiling assets will play an essential role in working toward achieving this goal.”

Markus Warmuth, president and CEO, H3 Biomedicine said that the successful development of new personalised medicines depended on well validated and characterised targets and clearly defined patient populations.

“High attrition rates in clinical trials have been impacting industry for a while,” he said. “We believe that clinical success starts at target selection and validation.

“We have elected to work with Horizon because its tools will enable us to progress toward identifying the best possible targets for new drugs with the power to have meaningful therapeutic relevance. That may help us to increase clinical success rates and expedite the delivery of new therapies to the patients who need them.”