Horizon Discovery extended its existing CRISPR license with ERS Genomics to give Horizon rights to use CRISPR-edited cell lines for the GMP manufacture of biotherapeutics. The Cambridge, U.K.-based company in parallel reported a 2-year collaboration with cell line development specialist Solentim to generate an automated manufacturing platform for mammalian cell genome editing.

Horizon already offers comprehensive CRISPR screening services and functional genomic screens using a CRISPR/Cas9 platform. The firm claims that the agreement with ERS Genomics for the use of CRISPR-edited cell lines in biomanufacturing means that it now has rights to use CRISPR for nearly all nontherapeutic applications. Darrin Disley, Horizon CEO, commented, “Through the extension of our CRISPR license with ERS Genomics, we now have a deeper toolbox of gene-editing options, which includes our exclusive recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) technology, to apply to the generation of GMP biomanufacturing cell lines. Bioproduction was only a small part of Horizon’s portfolio at the time of our IPO; however, the business has since outperformed expectations, becoming a significant source of growth and is an important part of our business plan going forward.”

Horizon already holds a number of CRISPR-related licenses, including  a worldwide commercial license to the University of California, Berkeley and Broad Institute family of CRISPR patents and a license to patents filed by Harvard University. Horizon in addition has its own patents pending relating to the use of CRISPR gene editing for engineering fully haploid human cells and a patent pending for a high-throughput CRISPR approach for modifying nearly any genetically defined cell line. The firm says that the recently signed global agreement between key CRISPR patent holders effectively gives it the ability to harness its licensed CRISPR IP globally.

The ultimate aim of the new collaboration with Wimborne, U.K.-based Solentim is to develop approaches for the fast and cost-effective manufacture of high-value genome-edited cell lines. The collaboration has been granted £764,300 ($810,066) in funding from Innovate UK, under the latter’s Collaborative Research in Manufacturing and Materials scheme. Of the total funding pot, Horizon will receive £523,000 ($554,317). Dr Disley continued, “Our grant-funded collaboration with Solentim has the potential to have a major impact on the rate and cost of cell line development for Horizon, further strengthening our competitive market position and accelerating the move from customer-performed cell line development to a fully outsourced model, similar to what has occurred in the research antibody market.”

Solentim is focused on the development of tools for cell line development. The firm’s flagship Cell Metric® product range comprises benchtop imaging stations for QC of fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) dispensing, clone screening and identification, clone growth, and stability measurements.