The project – which will see Horizon team with the UK Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) and the University of Manchester – will focus on engineering Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cell lines using the contract research organisation’s (CRO) gene editing techniques.
The research is funded by a £1.7m ($2.6m) grant from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Innovate UK, with Horizon set to receive £747,000 to support research.
The novel CHO cells will be assessed by scientists at the University of Manchester with further examination being conducted at the CPI’s recently established National Biologics Manufacturing Centre (NBMC) in Darlington.
The CPI told BioPharmareporter.com "We will use a rapid method of genome engineering to trial combinations of knock ins/knock outs before selecting which to introduce into a host line.
It added that: "Targets will be chosen for their beneficial effect on the expression of different classes of recombinant protein."
Horizon only entered the commercial CHO sector in December when it shipped its first batch of cells to a cutomer developing antibodies, however, it has been creating custom biomanufacturing ccell lines for years.
The UK firm produces cell lines using a combination of adenovirus vectors, zinc finger nucleases and the increasingly popular CRISPR and claims to have produced more than 90 cell lines for customer sin the research and manufacturing sectors.
Since they were first isolated in the late 1950s, Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells have become the expression system of choice for biomanufacturers with the firms behind top sellers like Rituxan, Humira and Enbrel all using them to manufacture their products.
Over the years Scientists have modified CHO lines for biomanufacturing - increasing yields and improving selectability – however, until recently this work relied on random mutagenesis.
But this changed in 2013 when the first genome sequence of the Chinese hamster (Cricetulus griseus) was published allowing engineers to compare cell lines with the wild type organism and to plan precise modifications.