Horizon Discovery divests animal model biz to focus on cell lines

Envigo will acquire the rodent model business from Horizon Discovery for an undisclosed fee. The unit brought in £4.6 million ($5.9 million) of revenues in FY18.

All assets and employees working at Horizon Discovery’s in vivo research model facilities in Boyertown, Pennsylvania and St Louis, Missouri, will be transferred to contract research organization (CRO) Envigo for an undisclosed nominal consideration satisfied in cash.

In vivo employs 46 people and generated £4.6 million in fiscal year 2018, and contributed an adjusted EBITDA loss of approximately £1.3 million to the Group,” a spokesperson from Horizon Discovery told this publication. “So, although revenues will decrease it will improve Horizon’s EBITDA position.”

Image: iStock/artisteer

The business used Horizon’s gene editing technologies to produce customized rodent models with clinically relevant gene deletions, insertions and other modifications, for use in preclinical research.

Following the closure of the deal – expected within the next 45 days – Horizon will collaborate with aid Envigo in generating CRISPR-edited models, ensuiring continuity for customers.

Cell line strategy

The divestment forms part of Horizon’s strategy to refocus its business on “high growth areas within its core market,” the firm said.

Talking to Bioprocess Insider last year, CEO Terry Pizzie said he was looking to cement his firm’s experience in gene editing and in the bioproduction space: “We’ve made our mark with our CHO Source platform which is a GS based expression system, and away from the limelight we’ve invested heavily in R&D to build the next version of CHO Source.”

The firm has licensed its Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) expression systems to numerous biologics firms, including Glenmark Pharmaceuticals which last month struck a deal to access its GS knockout CHO K1 platform.

Thus while the firm is moving away from animal models, Horizon says it will continue to expand its cell-based screening services to support drug discovery and development workflows.