Horizon Discovery Group plc has announced that its Bioproduction business has signed a license agreement with LakePharma, Inc., a leading contract research organization (CRO) specializing in antibody and protein engineering, cell line development, and protein production. The terms of the license cover commercial use of a genetically-engineered Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cell line, developed by Horizon and adapted to manufacturing conditions by LakePharma.
Protein therapeutics represent a significant share of the top 50 drugs globally and are increasingly present in developmental pipelines. The provision and licensing of bioproduction cells for their manufacture, however, can be cost prohibitive and are often tied to long-term revenue-based licensing terms.
Horizon’s flexible licensing model with simplified terms and no associated royalties allows any organization with ambitions in the biopharmaceutical marketplace, including small to medium size biotechs and Contract Manufacturing Organizations (CMOs), to access bioproduction cell lines.
For this program, Horizon used its gene editing expertise to introduce specific genetic changes into the CHO K1 cell line, leading to a functional knockout of the Glutamine Synthetase (GS) gene. This enables metabolic selection of cells producing high levels of valuable recombinant protein-based drugs. The GS knockout reduces the timelines and costs involved in identifying a final manufacturing clone, and eliminates the need for use of toxic and expensive chemical inhibitors. The potential market for such cell lines for biopharmaceutical production is significant, with over 1,600 active programs in pipelines worldwide.
LakePharma has adapted Horizon’s CHO cell for suspension growth, the preferred cell cultivation method for many manufacturing applications. Subsequently, LakePharma carried out a full evaluation of protein expression on the CHO cell line, showing significantly higher antibody production levels relative to their previous system. The evaluation also demonstrated the ability to identify a final expression clone after a relatively simple screening effort.
In alignment with strategic priorities, Horizon has leveraged this development effort in order to ensure that this cutting edge cell line is now available for other organizations to license from Horizon for the manufacturing of biological therapeutics.
Dr Darrin M Disley, Horizon’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “The license agreement with LakePharma, the first of its kind, serves as recognition and validation of our approach to developing novel bioproduction cell lines. Until now, cell line development has been a rate-limiting step for improving upstream bioprocessing. With precise gene editing we are able to provide a key step in the path toward delivering next generation biological medicines. We look forward to seeing further uptake of this approach within the industry.”
Dr. Fan Chen, Director of Bioprocessing, LakePharma, said: “The license agreement with Horizon allows us to offer a superior expression cell line to our customers, providing better value to them, while the one-time fee allows us maximal flexibility to utilize the cells to their best effect. I am delighted that the hard work we put in to adapting these cells has been reflected in their commercialization by Horizon.”