Horizon Discovery secures license for transposon based gene editing

Published: 11-Jul-2017

Horizon Discovery Group successfully completed licensing agreements with all joint patent holders to provide exclusive worldwide rights to a novel transposon based gene editing technology platform

The license broadens Horizon’s gene editing capabilities, with immediate applications in biomanufacturing, diagnostics and cell therapy.

The gene editing technology is based on a type of transposon (Helitrons), which uses a ‘copy and paste’ mechanism to allow multiple copies of a DNA sequence to be incorporated into a genome, either immediately, or by reactivating the transposon machinery to increase the copy number at a later time.

This is in contrast to current transposon technologies (eg Sleeping Beauty or PiggyBac), which transfer DNA by a ‘cut and paste’ mechanism, where a sequence is removed from one part of a genome and randomly inserted elsewhere.

This technology also enables the highly efficient delivery of DNA into a genome. A common method for DNA delivery is through the use of retroviruses or lentiviruses, which can be challenging to manufacture and are covered by associated IPt requiring expensive licenses.

The Helitron IP provides a far simpler and less expensive approach to manufacturing, promising Horizon the opportunity to realise significant operational efficiencies in cell engineering, and cell and gene therapy.

The Helitron patent is held by four inventors: Zoltan Ivics (Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) and the Paul Ehrlich Institute), Ivana Grabundzija (MDC), Vladimir Kapitonov (Genetic Information Research Institute), and Tilmann Buerckstuemmer (Global Head of Innovation at Horizon Discovery).

Horizon has now been granted an exclusive license from all co-owners for use of the technology, providing freedom to operate for all applications, including tool development, service provision, and therapeutic development. 

Dr Darrin M Disley, CEO of Horizon Discovery Group, said: “At Horizon we understand that the improvement of existing gene editing technologies, as well as development of completely novel ones, is critical to our lasting success leading the way in the gene editing space. Through the completion of gaining exclusive rights from all parties, Horizon now has access to a powerful new gene editing platform that provides a unique approach to gene editing and DNA delivery, strengthening our capabilities in bioproduction and diagnostics, and for the first time directly as a cell or gene therapy.”

Applications of this technology for Horizon include:

  • Biomanufacturing: supports delivery of the DNA sequence of the protein to be manufactured into bioproduction cell lines (e.g. CHO), and holds the potential to enhance the productivity of cells by having multiple copies of the target sequence present
  • Diagnostics: to be used to efficiently develop reference standards for assays designed to measure the copy number of a gene (e.g. Her2 in breast cancer)
  • Therapeutics: provides an alternative mechanism to deliver a gene of interest into a genome, and opens up a potentially revolutionary approach to therapeutic development where multiple copies of an expressing gene can drive the effectiveness of therapy

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