Horizon forges new US cancer drug alliance

A new transatlantic medical technology alliance plans to leverage cutting edge genomics research to develop novel cancer drug targets.

The Cambridge UK-Cambridge Massachusetts dream team comprises Horizon Discovery and Blueprint Medicines Corp.

Horizon is a leading provider of research tools to support the development of personalised medicines and Blueprint a patient-driven oncology company developing highly selective kinase inhibitors for genomically defined cancer subsets.

Horizon will support Blueprint’s ‘New Targets’ discovery platform by deploying its X-MAN™ isogenic cell lines.

Horizon will use its proprietary platform and expertise to screen a selection of Blueprint’s unique and highly selective kinase inhibitor tool compounds on a panel of 26 X-MAN isogenic cell lines.

Performing screens on X-MAN cell lines will provide valuable insights into elucidating synthetic lethal interactions with approximately 100 kinase targets in various cancer subtypes.

Horizon provides definitive and controlled preclinical model systems through the use of isogenic cell lines, where the genetic modification of interest can be directly compared to its matched normal cell.

These cell lines have been generated through the GENESIS™ genome editing platform, which now includes ZFN and CRISPR, as well as the company’s proprietary rAAV technology.

The use of panels of these isogenic cell lines allows molecularly-defined cellular models to be systematically profiled, thereby providing a powerful tool for the investigation of sensitivity and resistance to cancer therapeutics. Horizon has recently launched this as a service broadly available to academic and commercial customers.

Blueprint Medicines has developed a proprietary platform that combines genomics expertise with a novel library of kinase inhibitors to enable the rapid development of potent, highly selective compounds to address clear genomic driver targets.

Dr Christoph Lengauer, chief scientific officer at Blueprint Medicines, praised the Cambridge UK company. He said: “Horizon’s track record in precise genome engineering of patient relevant cell line models and expertise in the field of oncology provide the ideal resource to support Blueprint’s drive to develop genetically tailored, highly selective cancer therapies.”

The deal – financial terms of which are confidential – is yet another global boost for Horizon, according to chief scientific officer Dr Chris Torrance.

He said: “We are delighted that Blueprint has selected Horizon as a partner for its cancer targets discovery effort and look forward to contributing to the search for novel drug targets through use of our drug discovery services.”

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