The company claims its licensing model brings these bioproduction cells within reach of companies of all sizes, reducing timelines and costs associated with the development of large molecule drugs. But Horizon will be joining a crowded field – with heavyweights such as Sigma-Aldrich, Life Technologies and ATCC offering competing products.
But Brian Burke, business development director at Horizon, told us he thinks there’s a part of the market that Horizon can corner. “What it really comes down to is what do customers want and is that available today? Not only do I believe there is significant unmet need, I also see a lack of innovation in an industry that is not doing enough to put the patient first,” he told us.
And although cell line development was not supposed to be a significant revenue stream at the time of Horizon's IPO, it has since emerged as a significant opportunity, the company says, as the biomanufacturing market, which was valued at £1.8bn ($2.8bn) in 2012, is anticipated to grow to £2.9bn ($4.5bn) by 2017.
Darrin Disley, CEO of Horizon added that the work is based on a previously announced partnership with a major pharmaceutical partner, which is most likely AstraZeneca.
Horizon’s Glutamine Synthetase system enables the use of a metabolic selection process without the need for chemical inhibitors, the company claims. This in turn reduces the timelines associated with identifying specific cells that produce high levels of the biotherapeutic.
Horizon also says it’s adopting a flexible new licensing model with simplified terms and no associated royalties for all different types of companies looking to adopt their cell lines. The company also says it will use its expertise in genome engineering to modify multiple pathways to improve the biomanufacturing capabilities of its cell lines.
“Historically access to cutting edge cell line technology has been limited to major players. Horizon wants to change this,” Burke said.
This is the first step in Horizon's strategy towards building a comprehensive Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) bioproduction cell line platform. In May, the company began building this platform with the purchase of cell screening company CombinatoRx for about $8m.
“Horizon wants to develop the best cell line product and service offering possible for bioproduction. Cell lines and engineering cell lines is our core expertise and business,” Burke told us, noting the company’s focus.