The UK Steps Up its Game in Automated CRISPR Gene Editing

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Horizon Discovery now has full access to CRISPR technology and will develop an automated gene editing platform in collaboration with Solentim.

Horizon Discovery, based in Cambridge, UK, uses gene editing technology to create custom cell lines for research. To step up its game, the company has upgraded its existing license with ERS Genomics‘ to obtain full access to its CRISPR gene editing technology for GMP biomanufacturing applications. No details on the financial terms were disclosed.

In addition, Horizon Discovery has announced a collaboration with the British company Solentim to create an automated manufacturing platform for the genetic editing of mammalian cells. This project, funded by Innovate UK with €594,000 (£523,000), aims to create new approaches to produce quality cell lines with higher throughput at a reduced cost.

Horizon Discovery automated crispr

CRISPR has been hailed as the ‘scientific discovery of the century’ for its ability to cut and replace virtually any gene with much less effort than its predecessors, TALEN and zinc finger proteins. ERS Genomics, in Dublin, was co-founded by Emmanuelle Charpentier, one of the main players in the development of this gene editing technology.

This new license comes just after the recent agreement between CRISPR Therapeutics, Intellia Therapeutics, Caribou Biosciences and ERS Genomics to share and protect their IP in CRISPR/Cas9 technology. Consequently, Horizon now counts with the consent from all patent co-owners and worldwide freedom to operate.

Of note, the agreement did not include Feng Zhang’s Editas, with whom there’s an ongoing patent battle over the technology’s IP for its use as a therapy. However, since Horizon’s use of CRISPR/Cas9 will be limited to non-therapeutic applications, the final decision of the jury is not likely to affect its license.

Horizon Discovery has made good use of gene editing technology so far, selling 10 licenses and making €2M (£1.75M) in revenues since the launch of its bioproduction business in December 2014. The expansion of its CRISPR patent and the development of an automated manufacturing process will help the company continue its fast growth pace in the biopharmaceutical contract manufacturing market, valued at €3.4B (£3B) in 2015.

Images from Science photo, AnatSkwong/Shutterstock





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