Abcam plc Exercises Exclusivity Provision Of License And Supply Agreement With Horizon Discovery

  • Abcam extends a pre-existing license and supply agreement with Horizon by exercising an exclusivity provision for the period from July 2017 through June 2018
  • Horizon’s knockout cell models have enabled Abcam to validate its antibody catalogue at an unprecedented scale
  • Reagent validation is an important component of efforts to improve reproducibility in medical research

Cambridge, UK, 29 June 2017: Horizon Discovery Group plc (LSE: HZD) ("Horizon" or the “Group”), the world leader in the application of gene editing technologies, today announces that Abcam plc (AIM:ABC) (“Abcam”), a global leader in the supply of research antibodies, has extended a pre-existing license and supply agreement between the two companies by exercising an exclusivity provision for the period from July 2017 through June 2018. 

In September 2015, Horizon and Abcam entered into a collaboration to provide exclusive access to Horizon’s extensive library of human diploid and haploid cell line models for the functional validation of Abcam’s existing monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies, and for the development of additional haploid cell lines to validate new antibodies introduced by Abcam.

The validation of antibodies is an important effort for Abcam as there is a significant issue with the reproducibility of scientific studies.  In 2012, Dr. C. Glenn Begley, former global head of Hematology and Oncology Research at Amgen, published a paper in Nature1 describing an effort to reproduce the results of 53 cancer-related publications in top journals and found that only six of these papers could be replicated, with a lack of reagent validation being a significant contributor to the problem.

Abcam has stated that it is important for reagent suppliers to do more to tackle these issues, and has, therefore, engaged in an active programme to validate a large portion of its catalogue, made possible through Horizon’s knockout (KO) cell models. Knockout validation involves using cells that do not make the target protein of interest, thereby providing a true negative control, an approach Abcam found was preferred by many researchers. 

Since starting its KO validation initiative in 2015, Abcam has now validated several hundred antibodies using Horizon’s cell lines. This ongoing programme is being conducted at an unprecedented scale and is central to Abcam’s commitment to improving the standards of antibody validation. Recently, the importance of the programme was recognised when Abcam won the ‘Most exciting antibody validation initiative’ at the CiteAb 2017 Antibody Awards.

Under the terms of the agreement, Horizon receives exclusivity payments totaling £660,000 (c$1,000,000) across the initial three-year term, with preferred pricing charged for any additional haploid cell lines developed. In addition, Horizon receives a royalty on the sale of any Abcam antibodies marketed using validation data derived from Horizon cell lines for a period of 10 years from the first date of sale.

Dr. Darrin Disley, Chief Executive Officer, Horizon Discovery, commented: “We are pleased that Abcam has chosen to extend its exclusivity period for the use of Horizon’s cell models for antibody validation for another year. Researchers increasingly expect critical reagents such as antibodies to provide a reliable foundation for their work, and we are delighted that Horizon’s deep gene editing experience, including CRISPR and rAAV, breadth of intellectual property, and proprietary methods for the generation of high-throughput, low-cost haploid cell models, is enabling Abcam to rapidly validate its catalogue at scale.”


• Antibody: a protein produced in the blood that fights diseases by attacking harmful foreign bodies such as bacteria
• Cell engineering: the development of cell lines that reflect the genetics of disease found in real patients by use of gene editing
• CRISPR: a gene editing technology that enables genomic modifications in a wide variety of organisms and tissues with high efficiency
• Haploid: cells that have only a single copy of most or all genes in its genome
• Knockout (KO): a cell line that has had the production of the product of a gene completely turned off
• rAAV: a gene editing technology, exclusive to Horizon for non-therapeutic applications, which allows cells to be edited with extreme precision and virtually no risk of unforeseen errors

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

Zyme Communications (Trade and Regional Media)
Katie Odgaard
Tel: +44 (0)7787 502 947

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

About Horizon Discovery Group plc
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.

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