Horizon Discovery (Horizon) has announced it will be a founding member of VIMCAD, a consortium of UK Oncology research groups comprising: Cancer Research UK’s Cambridge Research Institute; Horizon Discovery in Cambridge; St George’s University of London; University of Glasgow and; the University of Liverpool.
VIMCAD will apply leading-edge in vitro cellular modeling and imaging techniques to translate molecular and cell-based observations on cellular senescence into a viable drug discovery strategy.
The key objectives of the VIMCAD research program are: the identification critical paths for cellular senescence with a focus on human melanoma; development of genetically defined ‘isogenic’ human tumour cell-lines with matched normal gentetic backgrounds to rationally screen for novel compounds that modulate senescence and; the identification of small molecules & miRNA target leads for drug development & pathway manipulation.
VIMCAD is being funded by Cancer Research UK for an initial period of 24months and will be the repository for valuable new intellectual property. Following this period an industrial partner will be sought by Cancer Research UK to develop the new intellectual property.
Horizon will contribute a valuable component of the research program, namely the development of genetically defined (by target patient genotype) human isogenic cancer cell-lines that can be used to find new drug candidates in high-content screens.
In return for its involvement Horizon will receive a six-figure fee and retain ownership of the developed isogenic cell-lines, which will allow the dissemination of these unique tools to its academic, biotech and pharmaceutical customers. Horizon will also be an equal shareholder in VIMCAD and the intellectual property contained within it.
Chris Torrance, CEO of Horizon says “We are excited to be part of VIMCAD and believe that our combined expertise in cutting edge automated microscopic imaging technologies, an in-depth understanding of the root causes and phenotypic biomarkers of cancer and the ability to translate these findings into novel in-vitro human cell models and assays, that the consortium is in a unique position to deploy new 'targeted' therapeutic strategies. This will lead to the discovery of new drug targets and candidates more quickly in the lab that better predict potential success in the clinic”.
The research activities of VIMCAD will begin on June 1st 2008.