Horizon Discovery (Horizon), a leading provider of research tools to support the development of personalized medicines, announced today that it has completed the acquisition of Hypoxium Ltd to form the wholly-owned subsidiary Horizon Discovery Services Ltd (HDS). The newly formed contract research organization will provide oncology translational research services that include access to Horizon’s 250+ patient-relevant human isogenic cancer cell models. Specific services include; drug profiling, novel 2D & 3D phenotypic assays, tumor microenvironment studies, and responsive-patient prediction.
Based on the Cambridge Science Park since its foundation in 2007, Hypoxium, a contract research organization specializing in cell biology within the oncology therapeutic area, has used its expertise to enable biotech and pharma clients to rapidly and successfully progress their lead compounds. Dan Cowell (formerly CEO of Hypoxium) has been appointed as the new Chief Operating Officer of Horizon, and Dr Kyla Grimshaw (formerly Research Director of Hypoxium) has been appointed as Research Director of HDS.
One of the challenges that cancer researchers face in designing new cancer therapeutics is that of predicting how drug molecules will behave in the complex microenvironment that surrounds a tumor. The new services provided by HDS include a suite of bespoke assays (marketed as the X-MAN Pathways) that combine Horizon’s novel genetically-defined isogenic X-MANTM human disease models (or “patients-in-a-test-tube”), with Hypoxium expertise in mimicking the tumor microenvironment in an in vitro setting. This will aid the identification of how specific cancer genes and assay conditions, such as limited oxygen (hypoxia), growth-factors and nutrient supplies, affect sensitivity to therapeutic compounds, to supportthe design of more targeted and effective anticancer drugs.
To support internal research and development that will further expand the suite of services provided by HDS, Horizon is investing $500,000 in a two-year research program. The program will add additional assays to the X-MAN Pathways panel and format these into high-throughput and relevant in-vivo assays to be operated by Horizon’s US partner TGEN Drug Development.
Commenting on the acquisition, Dr Darrin Disley, Chairman of Horizon Discovery Ltd said “We identified Hypoxium as a focused, world-class CRO outfit, and the Company was quick to realize the potential of X-MAN disease models for accelerating personalized drug discovery. The knowledge that Kyla Grimshaw and her team bring in assay development, mimicking the tumor microenvironment in an in vitro setting and client delivery will be invaluable to HDS moving forward.”
Dan Cowell, formerly CEO of Hypoxium, said: “The standard approach to cellular screening in vitro has changed little over the last 30 years, and critically can mask genotypic effects. We have always believed that by using a combination of the right assay, conditions and cell models we can increase the understanding and effectiveness of new treatments entering the clinic. Our collaboration with Horizon over the last two years has demonstrated that the X-MAN cell lines provide an invaluable tool for researchers in the search for new treatment for cancer. We look forward to bringing this expanded offering to our clients.”
The commercial terms of the acquisition are to remain confidential.