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Newcastle University Scientists to Develop X-Ray Vision for Horizon’s X-MAN

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Horizon Discovery and Newcastle University have entered a new research collaboration to be headed by Cancer Research UK scientists Professor Herbie Newell and Dr Ross Maxwell. This work will be focused on identifying novel biomarkers that can be used in non-invasive cancer-imaging applications.

Using its proprietary gene-engineering technology; GENESIS™, Horizon has developed the world’s first source of genetically-defined and patient-relevant X-MAN™ (Mutant And Normal) human disease models for accelerating the discovery of modern ‘targeted’ or ‘personalized’ cancer treatments.

Dr Maxwell and Professor Newell’s team based at Newcastle University will ‘mine’ a panel of X-MAN models for genotype-specific imaging biomarkers that can be used to identify the cancer genes that are involved in each tumor without the need for invasive biopsies. As a result of this research highly-targeted and increasingly ‘personalized’ drug therapies tailored to specific patient cohorts may be possible.

Dr Chris Torrance, CEO of Horizon says: “Dr Maxwell and Professor Newell’s work is addressing a major need to maximize the efficacy of current cancer treatments and direct future personalized therapies”.  Torrance also goes on to say: “We are honored that our X-MAN cancer models are being used at this critical clinical interface of developing earlier detection methods and enhanced therapy options for cancer patients.”

Professor Herbie Newell continues: “Recent advances in our understanding of the molecular pathology of cancer has allowed for the development of targeted therapies that exploit the underlying genetic defects that cause cancer.  However, these therapies require tests or biomarkers for effective clinical use in order to match the right drug to the right patient which this collaboration will seek to address.”  

Dr Maxwell adds: “Non-invasive imaging is a key biomarker technology and the X-MAN models developed by Horizon will be invaluable for the discovery of imaging biomarkers for common cancer genes”

Commercial details of the transaction remain confidential with the work program beginning in August 2009.