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Horizon Discovery Licenses CRISPR Gene Editing Technology from the Broad Institute

12 Jun 2014

Cambridge, UK, 12 June 2014: Horizon Discovery™ Group plc (LSE:HZD) (Horizon), the international life science company supplying research tools to organizations engaged in genomics research and the development of personalized medicines, today announced it has entered into a non-exclusive license agreement with the Broad Institute to access intellectual property related to the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing system.

Under the terms of the agreement, Horizon has rights to use the technology commercially for applications including development of research tools and reagents, and provision of services that utilize 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 the Company’s aims outlined at the time of its IPO and further strengthens Horizon’s 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.

The Broad Institute patent represents the first granted patent1 for use of CRISPR technology in eukaryotic cells and is based on work by Dr. Feng Zhang in a paper published in Science in 20132. More recently Dr. Zhang has published compelling results3 indicating CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene editing can be employed in high-throughput genome-wide screens. This technology has the potential to revolutionize functional genomics and will also be offered as a service by Horizon.

“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,” commented Dr. Darrin Disley, CEO, Horizon Discovery Group plc.

“Cas9 is revolutionizing many areas of biological research,” said Dr. Zhang, a core member of the Broad Institute and a pioneer of the CRISPR technology. “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.”

In line with its strategy outlined at the time of its IPO, Horizon continues to review the gene editing field for further product expansion and IP licensing opportunities.

1. US Patent #8,697,359
2. Science, 2013 Feb 15; 339(6121):819-23
3. Science, 2014 Jan 3; 343(6166):84-7