In-licensing inhibitors

Horizon, Servier ink an in-licensing and option agreement for novel kinase inhibitors

Kelsey Kaustinen
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CAMBRIDGE, U.K.—Horizon Discovery Group plc has announced a program in-licensing and option agreement with pharmaceutical giant Servier that could be worth more than £50 million (approximately $76.7 million) to Horizon, factoring in milestone payments, payments linked to net sales and tiered royalties on future product sales. Per the terms of the deal, Servier has a first option to license the assets back, and if it exercises this option, Horizon stands to receive up to £50 million in milestone payments as well as royalties on product sales. If Servier elects not to exercise its option, Horizon can seek out another pharma partner, and Horizon and Servier will share in the success of the program as its moves into the clinic and toward registration.
“The in-license of assets with a strong preclinical pedigree, but which 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, commented in a news 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.”
The agreement includes several novel kinase inhibitors that have shown promising potential in terms of preclinical data for a range of cancer types, but do not yet have a biomarker to define sensitive patient populations. Horizon will apply its technology platform to identify the cancer patients most likely to respond to the compounds, either as monotherapies or combination therapies with other drugs. This deal also gives Horizon the option of exploring the use of these inhibitors in other therapeutic indications. The company will evaluate the compounds’ mechanism of action and verify the patient stratification hypothesis through in-vitro and in-vivo preclinical experiments, and will define a path for the development of biomarkers for drug efficacy and patient stratification.
Jean Pierre Abastado, director of Oncology Innovation for Servier, said: “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.”
Horizon has been busy on the partnering front since September. On Sept. 9, the company announced the beginning of a license and supply agreement with Abcam, a leader in supplying research antibodies. The agreement grants Abcam access to more than 1,800 human diploid and haploid cell line models from Horizon’s X-MAN collection, and Horizon will help to develop additional haploid cell lines to validate new antibodies from Abcam.
The agreement states that Abcam will pay Horizon £660,000 in exclusivity payments across an initial three-year term, with the potential for an additional £1.275 million across years four to six should Abcam elect to extend the exclusivity period. Preferred pricing will be charged for any additional haploid cell lines developed. Horizon also stands to receive a royalty on the sale of Abcam antibodies marketed using validation data derived from Horizon cell lines for a period of 10 years from the first date of sale. There is also scope to extend this deal to include the complete human proteome and the co-development of novel functional genomics products and services with Abcam.
A week later, Horizon inked another license agreement, this one with LakePharma Inc., a leading contract research organization based in Belmont, Calif. The license covers commercial use of a genetically engineered Chinese Hamster Ovary cell line, developed by Horizon and adapted to manufacturing conditions by LakePharma. The cell line is now available exclusively from Horizon for further licensing to customers on non-exclusive licensing terms. No financial details for the agreement were disclosed.

Kelsey Kaustinen

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