With a drive towards personalised medicine, Big Pharma is acting like mini-biotech firms in its approach to R&D, says Horizon Discovery who is launching a £25m ($42m) IPO.
The Cambridge, UK-based company will strengthen its gene editing and cell line platforms, and therefore bring more products, deals and outsourcing opportunities to the business by raising £25m of new money in this initial public offering, CEO Darrin Disley told Outsourcing-Pharma.com this morning, though this may be supplemented by existing cash if needed.
The firm’s proprietary gene editing Genesis and X Man cell line technologies constitute Horizon’s “bread and butter,” Disley said, through contract research services, cell line and reagent products business sectors, but the IPO will aid the company’s third commercial unit which involves doing outsourced drug discovery work, taking downstream milestone and product royalties as the “extra jam on top.”
“Moving forward, Big Pharma is transitioning to be more biotech-like and wants to be in a biotech environment,” he explained.
“The patent cliff has ended and personalised medicine is taking hold,” he added, and many large pharma companies are operating “like mini-biotechs,” and looking to firms like Horizon “to leverage their R&D.”
Personalised medicine has become a focus for a number of CROs keen to capitalise on the move by Big Pharma. The world’s largest CRO, Quintiles, described the area as “crucial” at January’s JP Morgan Healthcare Conference , with “40 to 50% of drugs in the pipeline having some kind of marker or genomic indication.”
Partnering and IPO
Last month Horizon inked a deal to use its screening platform to identify new targets for AstraZeneca’s oncology drug development programme. This was the second collaboration between the two firms, with Horizon licensing its kinase targeting programme HD-001 to the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker in Q1 2013.
Horizon also has target identification and validation deals with Eisai’s bio-offshoot, H3, on the R&D front, as well as a customer base for its products and services that include Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Genentech, and Jannsen.
On top of leveraged R&D opportunities, Horizon says the IPO will increase awareness of the firm, expand sales and distribution channels, increase the number of cell line and reagent products available for sale and in-license, increase the intellectual property portfolio via licence or selective acquisition, and expand the firm’s geographical footprint.
Panmure Gordon is acting as Nominated Adviser and Broker to the company and, if successful, Horizon will launch on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange