Horizon Dx will partner to evaluate tests and identify new biomarkers.

Horizon Discovery launched a subsidiary, Horizon Dx, to support the development of companion diagnostics, initially in the cancer field. The new segment will exploit Horizon’s X-MAN™ panel of human isogenic cell models and normal controls.

The X-MAN cell models have been developed to represent defined cancer patient populations and their matched, normal genetic backgrounds. The technology hinges on the company’s Genesis™ gene-engineering platform, which allows the alteration of any endogenous gene loci in human cells. Horizon claims the technology means it can generate in vitro cell models comprising any SNP or activating point mutation.

The first products launched commercially by Horizon Dx will be a source of genetically defined mutant and normal human DNA along with isogenic cell-admixtures in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded samples. Horizon claims the products will allow companion diagnostic kit developers to validate and standardize assay performance.

“The initial focus of Horizon Dx will be on evaluating new diagnostic kits in partnership with key sector players and supplying isogenic human mutant versus normal DNA controls to end users via a premier distribution partner,” explains Darrin M. Disley, Ph.D., Horizon’s chairman. “The second phase of the business model is to expand the work Horizon is already undertaking with academic and industrial partners to identify novel genomic, proteomic, metabalomic, and other in vitro and in vivo biomarkers and disease signatures from X-MAN models that can form the basis of developing new companion diagnostics in partnership.”

Horizon currently leverages the X-MAN technology through collaboration and licensing deals related to the development of personalized therapeutics. The company claims its technology is now being used to rationalize every aspect of the drug discovery pipeline, from the identification of more patient-relevant drug targets to the design of clinical trials based on patients most likely to respond to a given drug.

Since October 2009, Horizon has signed X-MAN licensing and partnership deals with the University of Washington, University of Liverpool, Array BioPharma, Genentech, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen Pharmaceutica, and Novartis.

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