Horizon Secures license from the Univ. of Minnesota to new X-MAN Cell lines relating to DNA repair

16 Mar 2010

Horizon Discovery (Horizon) today announced it has secured worldwide exclusive rights to a panel of new human isogenic cell models of DNA damage repair developed by Professor Eric A. Hendrickson at the University of Minnesota using its proprietary GENESIS™ platform.

The in-licensed lines will be added to Horizon’s rapidly expanding library (250+) of X-MAN™ (Mutant And Normal) cell models that allow drug discovery researchers to understand how cancer manifests itself in real patients and helps rationalize many aspects of drug development, and therefore the final cost of new personalized cancer therapies.

Underlying GENESIS is a novel viral-based (rAAV) gene-engineering technology discovered and patented by the University of Washington and exclusively licensed to Horizon, which is essential to generating X-MAN lines efficiently and reproducibly.

Dr. Chris Torrance, CSO and co-founder of Horizon said, “Essential to the stability life is the ability to faithfully duplicate the genome during cellular replication and combat environmental insults that constantly bombard the integrity of DNA in quiescent cells. To achieve this stability, human cells possess specific mechanisms that enable them to repair virtually any type of DNA-lesion. These DNA-repair mechanisms often overlap with recombinatorial, genomic stability and telomere maintenance pathways; and thus defects in DNA-repair can lead to elevated mutational rates and higher rates of cancer development”. He goes on to say “encouragingly, these defects may offer ’Achilles Heel’s’ for exploitation by novel cancer therapeutics that display ‘synthetic lethality’ in these compromised genetic backgrounds; as highlighted recently by the selective toxicity of Parp-inhibitors in BRCA-2 null cancers (Ashworth et al., EMBO Mol Med 2009).

Professor Hendrickson is a researcher at the University of Minnesota’s Masonic Cancer Center. His research interests center on gaining an understanding of the molecular and biochemical mechanisms of mammalian DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair. In particular, his laboratory is studying a pathway of DSB repair called non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) and the complex, DNA-dependent protein kinase that regulates this pathway. The identification and characterization of the genes and protein factors involved in DSB repair will provide insight into the general mechanisms of DNA recombination and DNA repair and could have therapeutic significance for many types of immune disorders and cancers and is also relevant to improving methods of gene therapy.

Dr. Darrin M Disley, Chairman of Horizon stated, “I am delighted that we to be able to provide a commercial outlet for Professor Hendrickson’s outstanding research into the mechanisms of DNA damage repair. The launch of a panel of 50 X-MAN lines relating to DNA-repair enzymes and their regulatory proteins will enable our customers to further understand these important pathways in cancer development and help find novel cancer therapeutics that exploit them”.
The license is initially for five years and includes up-front fees and an ongoing royalty on product sales.