Horizon Discovery deploy new X-MAN regiments in the fight against cancer

13 Sep 2008

Horizon Discovery (Horizon) today announced it will be launching two new panels of X-MAN cell-lines to help cancer researchers in the development of new drugs that can be targeted to the genetic make-up of individual cancer patient populations.

X-MAN™ ‘Mutant And Normal’ human isogenic cell-lines are the first genetically-defined in vitro models of human cancer and their matched normal cell-types. X-MAN models are created using proprietary gene-engineering technology that allows any endogenous gene in a human cell to be modified into disease causing version of that gene; eliciting either a gain or loss in gene function.

In October 2007, Horizon launched its X-MAN Discovery 1 panel; a range of eight single gene ‘knock-in’ cell-lines with highly patient-relevant gain-of-function cancer genotypes. These have been rapidly adopted by a number of academic, Biotech and Pharma customers under either; licensing, contract screening and contract research terms.

Horizon, has since expanded its product development capability by setting-up a gene engineering laboratory at the state-of-art Molecular Biotechnology Center in Torino Italy. The center houses Horizon’s gene-engineering team who operate under the guidance of the company’s new Head of Research and Development Dr Rob Howes, formerly Head of Assay Development and Screening at Vernalis Plc.

Following internal research efforts and the signing of exclusive commercial licensing arrangements with the Department of Oncological Sciences, IRCC, University of Torino Medical School and the Johns Hopkins University, USA, Horizon is pleased to announce:

1) The expansion of the Discovery 1 panel to fifteen cancer genotypes; which now includes important loss-of-function genotypes that occur in cancer patients, such as p53 and PTEN.

2) The launch of the Discovery 2 panel; a new and expanding range of double knock-in genotypes containing two cancer genes that commonly co-segregate in real cancer patient populations.

3) The launch of a large (60+) ‘Researcher’ panel of X-MAN cell-lines in which specfic cancer genes or cancer associated genes have been ‘knocked-out’ in order to study their function in more detail or the effects of drugs that target them.

“Dr Darrin M Disley, Commercial Director of Horizon says “cancer drugs are notoriously un-selective towards cancer cells versus normal cells, and there is a trend to developing targeted drugs that better target the fundamental causes of cancer. However, cancer is not a single disease; every person’s cancer is defined by the presence of several genetic mutations; the spectrum of which will be highly ‘personalized’. X-MAN cell lines separate the cancer-gene spectrum to aid the discovery of specifically targeted drugs that can be used singularly, or in combination.”

“Dr Rob Howes adds “The X-MAN Discovery 1 panel of cell lines will focus on a single cancer-causing gene and will provide key predictive information on which cancer patient populations respond best to a drug. However, it is also becoming critical to check whether other (secondary) mutations modulate this response or impart resistance. These effects can be studied in a predictive in-vitro regime for the first time with Discovery 2 panel of cell lines; which have combinations of two cancer genes (double knock-ins).

Dr Disley continues this theme “The Researcher lines are primarily targeted to the multitude of secondary, epigenetically regulated or modifier genes that are differentially expressed in cancer vs. normal cells (non-mutated) enabling researchers to understand the broader context of the cancer-causing pathways they are studying and, in certain cases, if any represent valid targets for future therapy.”

Horizon is offering all of these lines on evaluation, direct licensing and technology access terms with screening services against a panel selected genotypes from the Discovery 1 and 2 panels being offered by global CRO, Caliper Life Science.