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Horizon to use CRISPR tech to enhance CHO cell lines for biomanufacturing

Dan Stanton

By Dan Stanton+

17-Jan-2017
Last updated on 17-Jan-2017 at 12:33 GMT2017-01-17T12:33:27Z

Image: iStock/kasto80
Image: iStock/kasto80

Horizon Discovery Group has extended its CRISPR technology license to improve the performance of CHO cell lines for biomanufacturing.

Cambridge, UK-based gene editing company Horizon licensed its CRISPR technology from ERS Genomics in 2014 and yesterday announced it had extended the deal to include the rights to use the platform to edit cell lines for GMP biomanufacturing.

“Previously, our ERS Genomics license covered virtually all non-therapeutic applications, which Horizon primarily has used to build cell lines – alongside our other gene editing technologies – and their derivatives,” a Horizon spokesperson told Biopharma-Reporter.

“The key exception to this was in GMP biomanufacturing, and now Horizon has this coverage as well.”

According to the company, there are two main applications for the use of CRISPR in biomanufacturing: genetic screening of the Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) genome to identify targets that can be manipulated to improve Biopharmaceutical production cell lines, and final editing of the cells to make the modification to drive performance of the CHO cell line.

“For both of these, we have seen demand from pharmaceutical customers we can now meet.”

Cell manipulation

As CHO cell lines are mammalian, it is as easy to manipulate these cells as it is most other similar cells, and Horizon has deep experience with this,” we were told.

CRISPR gene editing is achieved by putting the Cas9 protein along with a specially designed guide RNA (gRNA) into a cell. This machinery then cuts the DNA. When the cell repairs that break, errors can occur to generate a gene knockout – rendering a gene non-functional – or additional genetic modifications can be introduced.”

2-year automation project

The extended license will allow Horizon to use the CRISPR technology in an Innovate UK project also announced yesterday looking at developing an automated manufacturing platform for the genome editing of mammalian cells.

Being done in collaboration with cell line development company Solentim, the project aims to establish new approaches for the manufacture of high-value, genome-edited, cell lines to help reduce costs for industry.

CRISPR is going to be an important part of the Solentim platform, as the goal of the project is to develop a platform that will allow far faster and lower cost gene editing, and CRISPR is a fantastic technology for efficient gene editing,” the spokesperson said.

“We already use CRISPR for the rapid generation of haploid cell lines in our Vienna facility, so the proof of principle is already in place.”

Horizon will receive £523,000 ($637,000) from a total funding of £764,300 from the UK’s-innovation-agency.

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