Horizon Discovery to acquire Sage Labs for $48 million

The combination of both companies would reportedly make Horizon the world’s leading gene-editing and translational genomics company

Jeffrey Bouley
CAMBRIDGE, U.K. and ST. LOUIS, Mo.—There are a number of reasons for Horizon Discovery Group plc to want to acquire Sage Labs Inc. For one thing, it would enhance Horizon’s U.S. footprint and strengthens both its U.S. and European Union (EU) sales force. It would strengthen Horizon’s intellectual property (IP) with regard to CRISPR technology as it gains exclusive rights for in-vivo zinc finger nuclease (ZFN) applications. It would allow the creation of a more fully integrated translational genomics platform and reportedly make Horizon the world’s leading gene-editing and translational genomics company.
 
And all this for the price of $48 million.
 
Horizon—a global life-sciences company supplying research tools and services to organizations engaged in genomics research and the development of personalized medicines—announced near the end of September that it has agreed to acquire Sage for as much as $16 million in cash and as much as $32 million through the issue of new ordinary shares.
 
The acquisition of Sage, a major player in the generation of advanced in-vivo transgenic disease models for use in preclinical research, “builds upon the acquisition of CombinatoRx in July and makes Horizon the world’s leading gene-editing company and the go-to company for the provision of integrated product, service and research solutions at all stages of translational genomics and personalized medicine research from sequence to treatment,” according to Horizon.
 
The company goes on to note that the acquisition is in line with a stated strategy to build a fully-integrated life-sciences business, and that the move would provide Horizon with an expanded range of genetically engineered preclinical models, “which are important tools for the discovery and development of medicines targeted to the unique genetic drivers of diseases like cancer.”
 
The combined gene-editing platform would also “diversify Horizon’s overall product and service offerings into adjacent markets not currently addressed, increases its cost consolidation and cross selling potential as well as strengthens its intellectual property portfolio.”
 
“The acquisition positions Horizon as the world-leader in gene-editing and at the forefront of technological advances in the field of translational genomics. The consolidated offering significantly strengthens Horizon commercially, allowing us to offer product, service and R&D programs to customers engaged at every stage of translational genomics and personalized medicine research from sequence to treatment,” said Dr. Darrin M. Disley, CEO of Horizon.
 
Horizon will gain exclusive access to ZFN for in-vivo model generation and certain exclusive and non-exclusive CRISPR in-vivo-related IP to add to its extensive in-vitro IP in CRISPR, ZFN and rAAV (recombinant adeno-associated virus), the latter of which is a worldwide exclusive to Horizon.
 
Assets and capabilities to be acquired will include a custom-engineered in-vivo model development service, an inventory of ready to use in-vivo models and an inventory of molecularly annotated patient-derived xenograft models and custom development capabilities.
 
According to  Horizon, it will focus on expanding Sage’s predominantly U.S. customer base by increasing its presence in Europe, Japan and beyond via access to Horizon’s business development and commercial infrastructure and an almost 1,000-strong customer base.
 
The acquired business will continue to be known as Sage Labs Inc., and it will operated as a wholly owned subsidiary of Horizon Discovery Group.
 
“I am excited that Sage has become a part of Horizon’s important mission,” said Dr. David Smoller, CEO of Sage Labs. “Horizon is now the destination for researchers and scientists worldwide to find both in vivo and in vitro solutions to their biological questions. The addition of Sage now positions Horizon as the true leader in genomics and gene-editing.”
 
The acquisition was expected to be complete on Oct. 2, though there is, as of the writing of this article Oct. 7, no confirmation on the Horizon website that the deal has been finalized officially.

Jeffrey Bouley

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