Horizon Discovery announces collaboration with AstraZeneca

Horizon Discovery has forged a research and licensing deal with AstraZeneca to find new cancer drug targets.

The HD-001 programme, currently in the early stages of drug discovery, has the potential to be developed into a treatment based on modulation of a novel kinase. This target has been shown to be mutated in a range of cancer types including colon and lung. Importantly, the target has also been shown to play a key role in K-Ras mutant tumours.

K-Ras is mutated in up to 40% of all cancer types causing resistance to many of the available targeted therapeutics and as a result is associated with poor patient outcomes, which makes the development of molecular targeted therapies against the gene a significant unmet need.

The novelty of the target combined with the unique suite of biological and chemical tools assembled will provide AstraZeneca with a strong base to launch its pre-clinical and clinical research efforts; supported in the early stages by our own research scientists.

Dr Darrin M Disley

Dr Chris Torrance, CSO and leader of the HD-001 program at Horizon, commented: “Targeting cancer cells harbouring mutant K-Ras has been a perennial issue for the drug discovery community, with few canonical pathway or ‘gene-addiction’ targets showing a clear benefit on this important cancer gene. We are excited to partner with AstraZeneca on the development of HD-001, as they have shown a firm commitment to the identification of novel K-Ras targets.”

Dr Darrin M Disley, CEO at Horizon Discovery, said: “The programme has benefitted greatly from the use of Horizon’s drug discovery toolbox to first exquisitely validate the target and then provide a range of ‘on-target’ cellular assays to support rational drug discovery. As a result, the lead discovery effort has been rapid, resulting in a diverse portfolio of potent and selective inhibitors of the target. The novelty of the target combined with the unique suite of biological and chemical tools assembled will provide AstraZeneca with a strong base to launch its pre-clinical and clinical research efforts; supported in the early stages by our own research scientists.”

Susan Galbraith, Head of the Oncology Innovative Medicines Unit at AstraZeneca, said: “Horizon’s novel kinase target programme coupled with their target validation technology allows us to broaden our oncology research efforts beyond our own internal capabilities. AstraZeneca has a proven track record of collaborating on early stage discovery projects with innovative organizations like Horizon, partnering their cutting-edge science with our strong oncology expertise to bring new medicines to cancer patients.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Horizon will receive undisclosed upfront and preclinical milestone payments, and are eligible for clinical and approval milestones totaling up to $75M, as well as tiered royalties.

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