CAMBRIDGE, UK—Horizon Discovery Group plc, which focuses on the application of gene editing and gene modulation technologies, has announced an agreement to divest the company’s animal research models business unit to Envigo, a provider of research models to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, and other life science organizations.
This divestment is reportedly part of Horizon’s strategy to refocus on high growth areas within its core market. The deal is expected to be completed within 30-45 days, subject to customary closing conditions. Horizon also plans to expand its cell-based screening services to support drug discovery and development workflows, from target identification to patient stratification, and engineered CHO cell lines for biotherapeutic manufacture.
“We are pleased to announce this transaction with a strong commercial partner, Envigo, which will provide an opportunity for the research models business to flourish within a larger, market-leading company and also deliver continuity for its many customer relationships. Envigo will bring a dedicated sales channel to the organization to super-charge the positive work already done by the Horizon sales team over the last months. Horizon will collaborate with Envigo to provide access to our experience and expertise in generating CRISPR-edited models,” said Terry Pizzie, chief executive officer of Horizon Discovery. “This transaction is therefore beneficial for all parties and fully in-line with our Investing for Growth strategy to focus on establishing leadership positions in our key markets.”
Horizon’s research models business unit, which provides genetically engineered models from its premises in Boyertown, Pennsylvania and St Louis, Mo., will be transferred to Envigo ownership, including assets and employees. The animal models business unit uses Horizon’s gene editing expertise to produce customized models with clinically relevant gene deletions, insertions and other modifications, which are then used as pre-clinical models for human genetic disease during drug discovery and development.
Horizon and Envigo plan to collaborate to ensure continuity and enable customers’ access to CRISPR-edited research models for screening and other applications. Customers should continue to work with their contacts at Horizon and Envigo as they have done to date, for all projects.
“Envigo has a strong strategic rationale for this acquisition. We already provide the industry’s broadest range of research models to the global biopharma, academia, government and life science organizations, so we can provide the necessary scale and commercial infrastructure to more broadly market genetically engineered models and associated services,” added Dr. Adrian Hardy, president and CEO of Envigo. “The genetic-modification technologies expertise of the acquired business is an important addition to our portfolio to enable us to further expand the range of products and services available to Envigo customers. We are delighted to welcome the team to the Envigo family and look forward to a strong collaboration with Horizon in future activities.”
Horizon has also recently announced a full commercial licensing deal with Glenmark Pharmaceuticals for its gene-edited Glutamine Synthetase (GS) knockout Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) K1 cell line. Terms of the agreement were based on Glenmark’s stringent evaluation of the cell line to assess its suitability for adoption into their biomanufacturing processes.
“After extensive evaluation, Horizon’s GS knockout CHO K1 cell line demonstrated consistently impressive performance,” explained Martin Bertschinger, deputy director of Cell Sciences, Glenmark. “We generated clones with high levels of productivity and a favorable stability profile relative to our previous system. Incorporating this technology into our biomanufacturing processes enhances our ability to efficiently generate high quality cell lines.”
Horizon licenses its CHO expression system to pharmaceutical, biotechnology and biosimilar companies, as well as contract manufacturing organizations. The system includes the GS knockout CHO K1 cell line, a comprehensive package of supporting documentation, and an expression vector supplied under license from DNA2.0, Inc., now known as ATUM. This biomanufacturing platform allows companies to move from the DNA sequence of their potential biotherapeutic to clinical manufacturing as simply and rapidly as possible.
“We are extremely encouraged by the adoption of our GS knockout CHO K1 cell line by Glenmark. This proprietary solution has now been licensed to over 50 companies globally, which, together with a number of confirmed Investigational New Drug (IND) filings for products expressed in the cells, demonstrates increasing industry acceptance. These licenses have been taken as a result of an unmatched combination of high performance, transparent cell line history, supporting documentation, and attractive licensing terms,” noted Dirk Gewert, business unit director, Horizon. “By adopting this approach, Horizon aims to empower organizations of all sizes from large pharmaceutical companies to small startups to drive efficiencies in biotherapeutic manufacturing.”