CAMBRIDGE, United Kingdom—Horizon Discovery Group plc and Servier have announced the signing of a program in-licensing and option agreement. All told, the deal could potentially be worth more than £50 million (approximately $76.6 million) to Horizon in preclinical and clinical milestone payments, payments linked to net sales and tiered royalties on future product sales.
“The in-license of assets with a strong preclinical pedigree but do not yet have a clear clinical development strategy represents a great opportunity for companies like Horizon. Demonstrating our scientific leadership through our translational genomics, drug combination and biomarker discovery platforms, we seek to identify genetic markers that predict drug sensitivity, enabling programs like this one to be progressed rapidly into the clinic for defined patient populations,” Dr. Darrin M. Disley, CEO of Horizon Discovery, said in a press release. “This innovative deal, as part of our strategy to drive accelerated growth, offers significant upside potential for our investors built upon the leverage of our intellectual property, technology platforms and know-how.”
Under this deal, Horizon has in-licensed novel kinase inhibitors from Servier that have shown preclinical promise for treating a range of cancer types yet don't currently have a biomarker to identify a sensitive patient population. Horizon will apply its platform—which includes isogenic cell lines and in-vivo models, CRISPR-Cas9-mediated gene-editing technology and ultra-high-throughput combination screening—to identify the cancer patient population most likely to respond to treatment with the licensed compounds, either as monotherapies or combination therapies with other drugs. In addition, Horizon also has the option to explore the use of these inhibitors in other indications.
Horizon will determine the candidate compounds' mechanism of action, in addition to verifying the patient stratification hypothesis in both in-vitro and in-vivo preclinical experiments. The company will also be responsible for defining a path toward the development of biomarkers for patient stratification and drug efficacy.
The agreement grants Servier a first option to license back the assets. If that option is exercised, Horizon stands to receive up to £50 million in milestone payments plus royalties on product sales. Should Servier choose not to exercise that option, Horizon can seek out another pharma partner, and Horizon and Servier would share in the success of the program's progression as it advances into the clinic and registration.
“The longstanding collaboration between Servier and Vernalis has led to the discovery of novel kinase inhibitors. Horizon’s technology portfolio and expertise makes them ideally positioned to progress these drug candidates into the clinic and to investigate their potential for therapeutic efficacy both alone and in combination therapies. Servier is committed to driving therapeutic progress for the benefit of patients, with partnerships such as this playing a key role,” remarked Jean Pierre Abastado, director of Oncology Innovation at Servier.
SOURCE: Horizon Discovery Group press release