09 May 2017


Horizon Discovery Announces Update on its Immuno-Oncology Platform including Strong Uptake of Product and Service Offerings


  • Over £1.5 million in current and ongoing contract research services, product sales, and R&D collaboration payments have been derived from platform in FY17 to date, representing an almost 40% organic increase over full year 2016

  • Novel Immuno-Oncology drug targets and molecules in development for future partnering in leveraged contract research services or via joint-ventures or spin-outs  

  • Immuno-Oncology set to be a powerful growth driver for Horizon

Cambridge, UK, 9 May 2017: Horizon Discovery Group plc (LSE: HZD) ("Horizon"), the world leader in the application of gene editing technologies, today provides an update on the performance of its Immuno-Oncology platform, which combined represents over £1.5 million in current and ongoing product sales and contract research projects in FY17 to date, with a very strong order book in place for the remainder of the year.

The Group notes that the announced current and ongoing product sales and service projects in FY17 to date relating to immuno-oncology represents an almost 40% increase over full year 2016 revenue for these products and services. With a strong order book in place, including increasing orders for immunology-related target identification, validation and diagnostic reference standards, the platform is set to provide significant growth and contribution towards the Group’s full year 2017 performance, for which we reiterate guidance of £30M to £35M.

Horizon has built a ground-breaking platform for immuno-oncology therapeutic discovery to support the large and increasing number of customers actively pursuing programmes in this area, which includes gene editing of immune cells, immune cell assays and screening, cell therapy research and development services, and the supply of reference standards for immunology-based companion diagnostics. Horizon is currently working to broaden this platform by expanding the focus of its cutting-edge pooled CRISPR-screening platform to include immune cells, a technically challenging area in which Horizon is a world leader. It is anticipated that this approach will drive significant value creation by supporting the identification of new therapeutic targets, and by providing insights into how cancer is naturally fought in the body and how T-cells, NK-cells and other immune cells could best be used for therapy.

This platform has recently been used to identify several exciting new gene targets for cancer-cell directed therapies, which are currently undergoing validation. Horizon will explore a variety of routes to capture upside potential in this area including forging discovery partnerships with Pharma & Biotech, out-licensing of internally identified targets, and potentially spinning off target related IP into a new venture that would pursue drug and antibody discovery in its own right.

Horizon is also active in the development of immunotherapies through Avvinity, a Joint Venture with Centauri Therapeutics Ltd., formed in March 2016, which is deploying a powerful and proprietary platform to discover and develop novel immuno-oncology therapeutics (alphamer-derived DNA Aptamers or antibodies) for cancers of significant unmet medical need. Avvinity is progressing three novel target programs with Horizon owning 30% of the equity of the vehicle with the option to increase this to 49.99% based on its previously announced funding commitment of £5.3M which would take the company through to a significant Series B funding round with third-party investors in 2018-19.

“Gene editing is transforming the field of immuno-oncology, and Horizon is at the forefront with its novel target identification, precision validation, high-throughput combination screening and ability to develop proprietary small molecule, large-molecule and cell therapies for our clients or within our internal R&D programmes. With strong market dynamics, and with most large pharmaceutical companies actively pursuing programmes in this area, we anticipate immuno-oncology to be a significant source of growth in the coming years.”



About Immuno-Oncology

Cancer cells utilise a variety of methods to prevent the immune system from recognising and attacking them, thereby preventing their elimination.  Immuno-oncology therapies aim to re-activate the immune system, restoring its ability to respond to cancer cells and destroy them, primarily by influencing the function of T-cells and NK cells. Immuno-oncology has quickly become one of the most promising approaches to cancer treatment, and the market is currently estimated to be worth £25 billion per year (£50 billion per year by 2020)1.

Platform technologies based around alternative immuno-oncology approaches have secured high valuations once early positive results in clinical trials have been achieved: Amgen’s 2012 acquisition of Micromet valued Micromet at $1.16 billion, and in 2013, Spirogen was acquired by AstraZeneca for up to $440 million.


About Horizon’s Immuno-Oncology Platform

Horizon has built a ground-breaking platform for immuno-oncology therapeutic discovery to support the large and increasing number of customers actively pursuing programmes in this area. Services include the use of genome engineering tools such as CRISPR to modify a variety of immune cells, and the use of high throughput genetic and molecular screening to identify new targets for immunotherapy and to determine the impact of potential therapeutics alone or in combination. Additionally Horizon offers reference standards for diagnostic assays designed to measure markers that can guide immunotherapy by identifying patients most likely to respond to immune checkpoint inhibitors, two of which are anticipated to be amongst the 10 best-selling anti-cancer drugs by 2020.

About Avvinity

In March 2016, Horizon Discovery partnered with Centauri Therapeutics to form Avvinity Therapeutics, a joint venture established to explore the potential of a powerful and proprietary platform called Alphamers to discover and develop novel immuno-oncology therapeutics for the treatment of both solid tumours and leukaemias.  Alphamers recruit anti-Gal antibodies, the most common antibody found in humans, to sites on tumours so that the body’s natural immune response is stimulated to attack the cancer. The core concept of re-directing pre-existing antibodies to attack cancer cells recently received a boost via the acquisition of Agalimmune by BioLineRx a significant Israeli biopharma company for a multi-million dollar upfront payment with potential access to substantial additional future payments based on development and commercial milestones.


  • Assay: a laboratory procedure measuring the presence, amount, or functional activity of a specific biomarker or analyte
  • Cell engineering: The development of cell lines that reflect the genetics of disease found in real patients by use of gene editing
  • Cell therapy: the administration of live whole cells (potentially gene edited) to a patient for the treatment of a disease
  • CRISPR: A gene editing technology that enables genomic modifications in a wide variety of organisms and tissues with high efficiency
  • High-throughput genetic screening: A platform used by Horizon to identify and validate genes as targets for novel therapeutics using CRISPR based screening and other approaches
  • High-throughput molecular screening: A platform used by Horizon to rapidly look at large numbers of cell lines for a range of applications, including to look for drug interactions and for immuno-oncology screening
  • Immunotherapy: A treatment that stimulates or restores the ability of the immune system to fight disease
  • Natural killer (NK) cells: cells that accelerate immune response and directly attack other cells
  • Pooled screening: an approach to screening that involves targeting multiple genes simultaneously in a single assay
  • Reference standard: a standardised substance (e.g. DNA, protein) which is used as a measurement base or control for an assay
  • T-cells: cells involved in immune response which direct the activities of the immune system and are at the heart of immunotherapy

For further information from Horizon Discovery Group plc, please contact:

Horizon Discovery Group plc

Darrin Disley, Chief Executive Officer

Richard Vellacott, Chief Financial Officer

Chris Claxton, VP Investor Relations

Tel: +44 (0) 1223 655 580


Consilium Strategic Communications (Financial Media and Investor Relations)

Mary-Jane Elliott / Susan Stuart / Matthew Neal / Melissa Gardiner

Tel: +44 (0) 20 3709 5701

Email: horizon@consilium-comms.com


Zyme Communications (Trade and Regional Media)

Katie Odgaard

Tel: +44 (0)7787 502 947

Email: katie.odgaard@zymecommunications.com


Numis Securities Limited (Joint Broker and NOMAD)

Michael Meade / Freddie Barnfield

Tel: +44 (0) 207 260 1000


About Horizon Discovery Group plc www.horizondiscovery.com

Horizon Discovery Group plc (LSE: HZD) ("Horizon"), is a world-leading gene editing company that designs and engineers genetically-modified cells and then applies them in research and clinical applications that advance human health.


Horizon’s core capabilities are built around its proprietary translational genomics platform, a highly precise and flexible suite of gene editing tools (rAAV, ZFN and CRISPR) able to alter almost any gene sequence in human or mammalian cell-lines.

Horizon offers over 23,000 catalogue products and related research services, almost all of which are based on the generation and application of cell and animal models that accurately recapitulate the disease-causing genetic anomalies found in diseases like cancer. Horizon’s commercial offering has been adopted by over 1,600 unique research organisations in over 50 countries as well as in the Company’s own R&D pipeline to support a greater understanding of the genetic drivers of disease and the development of molecular, cell and gene therapies that can be prescribed on a personalised basis.

Horizon is headquartered in Cambridge, UK, and is listed on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM market under the ticker “HZD”.

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