AstraZeneca adds a second cancer R&D deal to its pact with Horizon Discovery

Amid AstraZeneca's deal frenzy to rebuild its weak pipeline, the U.K.-based company has forged another research and licensing deal with Horizon Discovery to find new cancer drug targets.

Under the terms of the agreement, Horizon will use its siRNA technology to screen a set of genotypes for synthetic lethality--essentially, cell death that results from mutations in two or more genes. Horizon will test and validate potential targets, and AstraZeneca ($AZN) would have dibs on any validated targets.

This is the second deal AstraZeneca has struck with the Cambridge, U.K.-based personalized medicines outfit, following up on an April 2013 announcement of a joint oncology discovery program to explore Horizon's kinase target program, HD-001.

Horizon is receiving an undisclosed upfront payment and is eligible for subsequent payments of up to $88 million in milestones if AstraZeneca moves forward with developing compounds using targets identified through the research collaboration.

The partnership is in line with AstraZeneca's strategy of beefing up its thin late-stage pipeline by acquiring candidates. In October, AstraZeneca's global biologics research and development arm MedImmune acquired Amplimmune, signaling the drug giant's aspirations to catch up in the cancer immunology space.

"AstraZeneca's strategy of collaborating with innovative organizations like Horizon allows us to broaden our oncology research efforts and complement our own internal capabilities," said Susan Galbraith, head of the oncology innovative medicines unit at AstraZeneca, in a company statement.

- here's the press release