Horizon buys Haplogen chromosome tech for ‘10x’ faster cell production

By Fiona Barry

- Last updated on GMT

Haploid cells have only one pair of chromosomes. (Image: Hey Paul Studios)
Haploid cells have only one pair of chromosomes. (Image: Hey Paul Studios)

Related tags: Cell lines, Dna, Gene

Horizon says its £6m (€7.7m) purchase of Austrian biotech Haplogen Genomics means it can produce cell lines ten times faster than before using a haploid gene platform.

Haploid cells have only one pair of chromosomes instead of the complete set of two. They can be used for in vitro genetic analyses, and are quicker to work with than normal cell lines as only one copy of a gene needs to be targeted to generate a complete knock-out, Horizon’s Chief Technology Officer told Outsourcing-Pharma.com.

When you’re doing genetic modifications there’s only one target to work with so it simplifies the genetic engineering process,​” said Eric Rhodes. “So it makes it faster, cleaner, and more efficient.

Haplogen is generating 150 cell lines a month in Vienna, whereas we would usually make only 15 a month.​”

Horizon will offer haploid-generated cell lines as both a preclinical compound screening service, and as a custom cell development offering.

Two become one

The company has already been offering haploid services for a year following a co-marketing and distribution agreement with Haplogen. Its platform combines the human haploid cell lines with CRISPR-based subgenomic RNA tools.

CTO Rhodes told us some customers originally had concerns about using cells with a single set of chromosomes. “Some don’t know if there’ll be a negative effect on their work. But there’s a lot of data that shows they behave exactly like diploid cells.​”

Rarely, customers require cell lines which need two copies of a gene to express the right amount of protein, he said.

Scientists sought

Horizon plans to expand Haplogen’s 4,300 sq ft base in Vienna and hire more scientists, as well as working with the haploid platform at its own sites in Boston, St Louis, and Cambridge, UK.

The £6m cash and share purchase may be increased by future earn-out payments up to £3.9m (€5m).

It is the latest of several acquisitions by Horizon after the company went public in early 2014​ – and is unlikely to be the last:

We’ve raised quite a bit of money in our IPO – part of that was dedicated to M&A activities and we’re always looking for something that fits,” ​said Rhodes.

Last year Horizon purchased cell-screening service CombinatoRx​ from Zalicus and in vivo player Sage Labs.

Related topics: Bio Developments, Cell lines

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