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12 June, 2014 - 08:22 By Tony Quested

Broad opportunity as Horizon acquires revolutionary US technology


A tie-up between personalised medicines frontrunner Horizon Discovery in Cambridge UK and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard holds huge potential for further progress towards personalised medicines.

Horizon has broadened its suite of key research tools by acquiring IP relating to Broad's much-feted  CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing system. 

The company says the technology has the potential to revolutionise functional genomics.

Horizon has rights to use the technology commercially for applications including development of research tools and reagents, and provision of services that utilise CRISPR – for example as part of Horizon’s GENASSIST™ offering. GENASSIST is a comprehensive product and service solution for CRISPR and rAAV gene editing, including guide RNA design and validation, donor design, and a wide range of off-the-shelf plasmids.

The acquisition of additional CRISPR IP is in line with Horizon’s aims outlined at the time of its IPO and further strengthens its position in the market for this cutting edge gene editing technology. Access to a broader CRISPR IP portfolio will allow the technology to be deployed extensively across Horizon’s products, services and leveraged R & D and enhance the attractiveness of the Horizon GENESIS™ offering to customers, according to CEO Dr Darrin Disley.

The Broad Institute patent represents the first granted patent for use of CRISPR technology in eukaryotic cells and is based on work by Dr. Feng Zhang in a paper published in Science in 2013. More recently Dr. Zhang has published compelling results indicating CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene editing can be employed in high-throughput genome-wide screens. This technology has the potential to revolutionise functional genomics and will also be offered as a service by Horizon.

Dr Disley said: “Horizon is committed to gaining access to the widest range of CRISPR IP possible. We have taken this approach to ensure that our customers and partners are secure in the knowledge that they have the freedom to pursue their research and commercial goals when they choose to work with us.

“Building upon the Charpentier IP, in-licensed in early May, the Broad patent represents another important part of this program, and we are very pleased to be able to announce its addition to our growing portfolio of CRISPR licenses.” 

Dr Zhang, a core member of the Broad Institute and a pioneer of the CRISPR technology added: “Cas9 is revolutionising many areas of biological research. This technology has a lot of potential and we are excited to work with partners like Horizon to help put these powerful genome editing tools into the hands of researchers.”

Horizon continues to review the gene editing field for further product expansion and IP licensing opportunities, in line with its stated IPO strategy, Dr Disley confirmed.

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