Under the license agreement, the unnamed US-based therapeutics developer will have non-exclusive rights to Horizon Discovery Group’s Helitron transposon gene editing technology.
The technology is based on a type of transposon – a DNA sequence which can alter the cell’s genetic identity and genome size – called Helitron.
The gene editing technology will be used to modify one of Horizon’s current biomanufacturing cell lines to generate an intermediate “to introduce specific changes such as the integration of antibody sequences,” said the firm.
“The intermediate cell line will enable rapid development of a wide range of cell lines designed to produce specific antibodies, enabling more cost effective and efficient antibody manufacture in the future for all the Partner’s development programmes.”
The collaboration – financial details of which were not disclosed – will be conducted at the ‘Partner’s’ facility.
‘Copy and paste’
VP Chris Claxton told us Helitron uses “‘copy and paste’ mechanisms to allow multiple copies of a DNA sequence to be incorporated into a genome, either immediately, or by reactivating the transposon machinery to increase the copy number at a later time.”
The technology is in contrast to current transposon technologies – eg. Sleeping Beauty or PiggyBac – in which a sequence is removed from one part of a genome and ‘randomly’ inserted elsewhere, we were told.
Far simpler, less expensive?
Horizon said the technology enables the highly efficient delivery of DNA into a genome.
“A common method for DNA delivery is through the use of retroviruses or lentiviruses, which can be challenging to manufacture and are covered by associated IP [intellectual property] that require expensive licenses,” said Claxton.
However the Helitron IP provides a “far simpler and less expensive” approach to manufacturing, he added.
The therapeutic developer will own and pursue any programmes related to the partnership.