Horizon Discovery Group plc In-licenses Oncology Programme from Servier and Enters Option Agreement

  • License programme with milestone payments of up to £50 million plus royalties on product sales
  • Horizon to in-license novel kinase inhibitor programme from Servier
  • Horizon will exploit its translational genomics and combination sciences platform to define optimum approaches to treatment and identify cancer patient populations most likely to respond

Cambridge, UK, 7 October 2015: Horizon Discovery Group plc (LSE: HZD) ("Horizon" or "the Company"), the international life science company supplying research tools and services that power genomics research and the development of personalised medicines, announces today that its leveraged business unit has signed a programme in-licensing and option agreement with Servier, the independent French research-based pharmaceutical company . The agreement is potentially worth over £50 million to Horizon in preclinical and clinical milestones, payments linked to net sales, and tiered royalties on future product sales. 

Horizon has in-licensed novel kinase inhibitors from Servier that exhibit great promise based on pre-clinical data for treatment of a range of cancer types but do not currently have a biomarker to define a sensitive patient population. Horizon will use its world-leading platform, comprising isogenic cell lines and in vivo models, CRISPR-Cas9 mediated gene editing technology and ultra-high-throughput combination screening, to identify the population of cancer patients most likely to respond to the in-licensed compounds, whether as single agents or in combinations with other drugs. Horizon also has the option to explore the use of the inhibitors in other therapeutic indications.

Under the terms of the agreement, Servier has a first option to license back the assets. Should Servier take up this option, Horizon would receive up to £50 million in milestone payments plus royalties on product sales. If Servier does not take up its option, Horizon will be free to seek another pharma partner and Horizon and Servier would then share in the success of the progression of the programme as it advances into the clinic and registration.

Horizon will evaluate the mechanism of action of the candidate compounds, and will verify the patient stratification hypothesis by both in vitro and in vivo preclinical experiments. Horizon will also define a path towards the development of biomarkers for both patient stratification and drug efficacy.

Dr. Darrin M. Disley, Chief Executive Officer of Horizon Discovery Group plc, said: "The in-license of assets with a strong pre-clinical pedigree but do not yet have a clear clinical development strategy, represents a great opportunity for companies like Horizon. Demonstrating our scientific leadership through our translational genomics, drug combination and biomarker discovery platforms; we seek to identify genetic markers that predict drug sensitivity enabling programmes like this one to be progressed rapidly into the clinic for defined patient populations. This innovative deal, as part of our strategy to drive accelerated growth, offers significant upside potential for our investors built upon the leverage of our intellectual property, technology platforms and know-how."

Mr Jean Pierre Abastado, Director of Oncology Innovation, Servier, commented: "The long standing collaboration between Servier and Vernalis has led to the discovery of novel kinase inhibitors. Horizon's technology portfolio and expertise makes them ideally positioned to progress these drug candidates into the clinic and to investigate their potential for therapeutic efficacy both alone and in combination therapies. Servier is committed to driving therapeutic progress for the benefit of patients, with partnerships such as this playing a key role."