Horizon Discovery to be a founding-member of oncology drug discovery consortium funded by...


Horizon Discovery has announced it will be a founding member of VIMCAD, a consortium of leading UK oncology research groups comprising Cancer Research UK’s Cambridge Research Institute; Horizon Discovery in Cambridge; St George’s University of London; University of Glasgow and the University of Liverpool.

VIMCAD will apply leading-edge in vitro cellular modeling and imaging techniques to translate molecular and cell-based observations on cellular senescence into a viable drug discovery strategy.

The key objectives of the VIMCAD research programme are: the identification of critical paths for cellular senescence with a focus on human melanoma; development of genetically defined ‘isogenic’ human tumour cell-lines with matched normal gentetic backgrounds to rationally screen for novel compounds that modulate senescence and the identification of small molecules & miRNA target leads for drug development and pathway manipulation.

VIMCAD is being funded by Cancer Research UK for an initial period of 24 months and will be the repository for valuable new intellectual property. Following this period an industrial partner will be sought by Cancer Research UK to develop the new intellectual property.

Horizon will contribute a valuable component of the research programme, namely the development of genetically defined (by target patient genotype) human isogenic cancer cell-lines that can be used to find new drug candidates in high-content screens.

In return for its involvement Horizon will receive a six-figure fee and retain ownership of the developed isogenic cell-lines, which will allow the dissemination of these unique tools to its academic, biotech and pharmaceutical customers. Horizon will also be an equal shareholder in VIMCAD and the intellectual property contained within it.

Chris Torrance, CEO of Horizon says “We are excited to be part of VIMCAD and believe that our combined expertise in cutting edge automated microscopic imaging technologies, an in-depth understanding of the root causes and phenotypic biomarkers of cancer and the ability to translate these findings into novel in-vitro human cell models and assays, that the consortium is in a unique position to deploy new 'targeted' therapeutic strategies. This will lead to the discovery of new drug targets and candidates more quickly in the lab that better predict potential success in the clinic”.

Simon Youlton, Senior Business Manager at Cancer Research UK says “This initiative creates a unique opportunity for us to hand-pick a ‘crack team’ of scientists wherever they may be based - rather than being tied to a particular academic institution or team which approaches us for funding.

“It enables us to pose an industrially relevant problem that Cancer Research UK wants solving and we hope it will help bridge the gap between academia and industry by combining commercial and scientific know how with the best and most dedicated brains in science.“

The research activities of VIMCAD will begin on June 1st 2008.

About Horizon Discovery

Horizon Discovery is a translational genomics company founded in June 2007 and is headquartered at the Babraham Research Campus, Cambridge, UK and with additional research laboratories in Torino, Italy. Horizon’s goal is to convert new information on the genetic causes of cancer into laboratory models that will facilitate the discovery of drugs that target these defects. Central to this aim is Horizon Discovery’s offering of isogenic cell-lines, which represent accurate models of defined cancer patient populations and their matched normal genetic backgrounds – a missing link in the rational and efficient development of novel targeted anti-cancer agents.


Contact: Dr Chris Torrance on +44 (0)1223 497360 or +44 (0)7739 825233


About Cancer Research-UK

• Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK's vision is to beat cancer.

• Cancer Research UK carries out world-class research to improve understanding of the disease and find out how to prevent, diagnose and treat different kinds of cancer.

• Cancer Research UK ensures that its findings are used to improve the lives of all cancer patients.

• Cancer Research UK helps people to understand cancer, the progress that is being made and the choices each person can make.

• Cancer Research UK works in partnership with others to achieve the greatest impact in the global fight against cancer.


Contact: Dr Simon Youlton on +44 (0)20 7269 3074



Horizon Discovery Group plc, a UK headquartered global life science company, is a world leader in gene editing and gene modulation.

Horizon Discovery