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Horizon Discovery and University of Washington Expand Gene-Targeting Licenses

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Horizon Discovery (Horizon) and University of Washington (UW) announced they have entered into two additional exclusive licensing agreements in the area of human gene-targeting.

The new agreements give Horizon a world-wide exclusive right to commercialize inventions made by Professor David Russell, Professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology; Adjunct Professor of Biochemistry, University of Washington School of Medicine relating to the use of parvoviral vectors in human genome engineering.

Horizon will use  its new rights and associated know how to: (a) develop mammalian cell-lines that have been genetically-altered to optimize the bio-production of bio-pharmaceutical agents and; (b) to engineer pluripotent human stem cells as a means of generating an expanded array of human isogenic cell-lines that are capable of predicting the response of drugs targeted at the genetic defects that represent the make-up of individual cancer patients tumors.

Using key know-how from Professor Russell and Horizon’s GENESIS platform, a range of genetically-stable and high-yielding bio-production cell-lines will be created by knocking-out, or modifying, specific host cell gene-targets. Such targets currently hamper the efficient manufacturing of biopharmaceutical agents, such as the therapeutic antibodies Erbitux and Avastin.

The genetic engineering of human adult stem cells, or re-programmed stem cells derived from differentiated somatic human cell-lines in the laboratory, opens up a myriad of possibilities to firstly; rapidly expand and diversify Horizon’s existing portfolio of X-MAN research and development tools; and secondly provide a gold-standard source of parental cell-lines for bio-production that have infinite self-renewable capacity.

Under the new agreements, UW will be granted an undisclosed number of share options in Horizon and will receive ongoing product royalties from licensed products and services marketed by Horizon. The license comes into effect in December 2009.