Horizon Discovery Ltd. Receives $1.6M Grant Funding from EU FP7 Program and Joins the COLTHERES Consortium

March 31, 2011 -- Horizon Discovery (Horizon), a leading provider of research tools to support the development of personalized medicines,has announced that it has received €1.2M ($1.6M) grant funding from The Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and has joined the COLTHERES (Colon Cancer and Therapeutics) Consortium. The grant will be used to fund the development of new X-MAN cell-lines that incorporate new predictive biomarkers of drug responses determined by the consortia’s profiling of large clinical trial patient cohorts. These novel cancer models will be used to confirm and explain patient drug resistance mechanisms and ascertain rational drug combinations to provide longer lasting or more effective cancer treatments.

COLTHERES is a consortium of EU-clinical centres and translational researchers who have received a total of 6.5M Euros of core funding from the FP7 organisation to define and perform biomarker driven clinical trials to improve cancer therapy outcomes. It is a four-year programme that will use comprehensively molecularly-annotated colon cancers as a ‘test-bed’ to define specific biomarkers of response or resistance to signalling pathway agents. The consortium is open to any pharmaceutical developer who wishes to determine which patients are most likely to respond to their novel cancer therapy and perform rapid proof-of-concept clinical trials.

It is expected that the program will generate up to 100 new X-MANTM (gene X-Mutant And Normal) genetically-defined human cell lines; accurately incorporating key biomarkers that are predicted to cause resistance to new targeted therapies. These cell lines will be owned by Horizon, which forms part of the Company’s strategy to generate at least 2500 new X-MANmodels in 5-years. These models will support drug discovery researchers to understand how complex genetic diseases manifest themselves in real patients and help rationalize many aspects of drug development, and therefore the cost of bringing to market new personalized therapies.

Also to receive funding from the FP7 organization is Professor Alberto Bardelli, co-founder of Horizon Discovery, and lead investigator for the Consortium. Professor Bardelli’s research team at the University of Torino School of Medicine in Turin, Italy, will join the Consortium, and received €2.1M ($2.8M) grant funding, which will be used to perform patient tumour profiling of resistance biomarkers and screens to find rational drug combinations that reverse this resistance.

All IP emanating from program, including diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers of drug responses, novel drug targets and rational drug combinations, will be shared by the Consortium members.

Professor Alberto Bardelli, said: “Personalized cancer medicine based on the genetic milieu of individual tumors has long been postulated. COLTHERES is designed to translate this concept into clinical practice using colorectal tumors as a paradigmatic model. I am honored to coordinate this EU funded project, which brings about international experts in the fields of functional genomics, pharmacogenetics, bio-informatics and clinical oncology. COLTHERES is open to any pharmaceutical developer who wishes to determine which patients are most likely to respond to their novel cancer therapy and perform rapid proof-of-concept clinical trials.”

Dr Chris Torrance, CSO and co-founder of Horizon, said: “The aims of this consortium are to bring cutting-edge genome profiling technologies and Horizon’s well established GENESIS system to routinely and accurately model any human genetic variation in the laboratory setting, so as to study and understand which patients will respond to novel targeted therapies. Equally important is the ability to use these models to find new ’combination’ treatment regimes that enable more patients to respond to targeted therapies, which are often restricted in their efficacy as single agents due to complex genetic and epigenetic factors in patient tumors”.

Dr Darrin M Disley, Executive Chairman of Horizon, said: “Horizon’s mission is to make a difference for patients and this consortium builds upon the pioneering work of scientific advisory Board members, Professor Alberto Bardelli and Professor Sabine Tejpar, that is defining the genetic basis upon which the prescription of the anti-EGFR targeted drugs Erbitux and Vectibix is prescribed to metastatic CRC patients. It is our belief that the findings of the Consortium will continue to define the next generation of treatment regimes for these and other patients that could be amenable to new targeted therapies”.

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