Horizon in new super-cell elite

Posted: February 16, 2012 at 11:56 am

Cambridge personalised medicines pioneer Horizon Discovery Ltd has landed another showpiece deal as part of a new super-cell consortium.

Business Weekly understands that the UK company stands to make a seven-figure haul over the lifetime of an EU-funded project aimed at understanding hES cell differentiation control.

Horizon provides research tools to support the development of personalised medicines. It has joined the EU-FP7 funded ‘4D-Cell-Fate’ consortium  whose aim is to shed light on how stem cell re-programming and differentiation is regulated at the epigenetic level.

As a member of the consortium, Horizon will generate cell-lines harbouring endogenous pathway reporter genes and labelled versions of specific epigenetic target proteins to study their function.

Commercialisation of the output of the programme will be governed by a consortium agreement defined by EU regulation.

4DCellFate brings together 12 groups from nine countries, including academics, research-intensive SMEs, and Pharma, each an international leader in its field, combining expertise in a wide range of cutting-edge technologies and scientific approaches.

The aim of the 4D CellFate project, which is currently funded for five years, is to establish an integrated approach to explore the structure and function of the large multi-protein epigenetic complexes that are involved in control of stem cell self-renewal, lineage commitment, and differentiation.

Horizon will use its proprietary virally-mediated gene-engineering technology, GENESIS™, to alter endogenous genes in hES cells (e.g. via tagging with GFP and HaloTag® technologies) with unprecedented accuracy and precision.

By gaining a greater insight into how Polycomb Repressive Complexes (PRCs), and Nucleosome Remodelling and Deacetylation complexes (NuRD) control stem cell differentiation, it is hoped that better methods will be identified to generate ethical sources of ‘iPS’ stem cells and direct the fate of stem cells into the many forms of specific tissue types that are needed for disease therapy.

Dr Chris Torrance, CSO of Horizon, said: “Generating stem cells and differentiated cell types with greater precision, definition and safety are key areas for delivering on the great promise that stem cell-based therapies could bring to many disease areas.

“Horizon’s gene targeting technology will play a key role in helping to dissect key biological pathways in the fate of stem cells as part of the 4D Cell Fate project. Through this process, new and important approaches to disease therapy will be determined.”

CEO Dr Darrin Disley added: “Our company has a commitment to active involvement in cutting-edge research with leading experts in translational fields, including bringing the power of rAAV-mediated gene targeting technology to the 4D Cell Fate project.”

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Horizon in new super-cell elite

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