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Horizon Extends Industry-Leading Gene Editing IP Portfolio Through Expansion of CRISPR License Rights with ERS Genomics

05 December 2017

Cambridge, UK, and Dublin, Ireland, 05 December, 2017: Horizon Discovery Group plc (LSE: HZD) (“Horizon” or “the Group”), a global leader in gene editing and gene modulation technologies, and ERS Genomics Ltd., today announce the extension of their pre-existing non-exclusive, worldwide license agreement to significantly expand Horizon’s license coverage for the use of the CRISPR gene editing technology. This will enable Horizon to use CRISPR in multiple new areas across its products and services, providing access to additional revenue streams in new and existing markets, and further reinforcing Horizon’s leadership position in gene editing and cell biology.

ERS Genomics was formed to provide broad access to the foundational CRISPR intellectual property held by co-inventor and co-owner Dr. Emmanuelle Charpentier.  With that patent having been granted in Europe, China, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Mexico as of December 1, 2017, Horizon has taken the opportunity to expand the Group’s license rights to include:
  • The grant of research rights for the identification of novel genetic traits in species relevant to disease model generation and the industrial production of certain animals, including, mouse, rat, chicken, fish, pig and rabbit, enabling Horizon to generate new streams of revenue through the provision of high-value products and services to this market
  • The grant of new rights to have Horizon products made and sold by partners.  These rights support Horizon’s original equipment manufacturer (OEM) strategy, and will enable new relationships to be developed across Horizon’s products business
  • The inclusion of one joint venture or spin-out in which Horizon has a significant minority interest, allowing that entity to use CRISPR for its own internal research without an additional license being required

This license extension builds on an original agreement with ERS Genomics announced in 2014. The original agreement was for the use of CRISPR technology for research purposes, including for the development and sale of tools, kits and reagents for use in research and diagnostics, and the performance of research services on behalf of clients and to support internal programmes. In January 2017, the license was amended to include the full commercial rights for the use of CRISPR gene edited cell lines for the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) manufacturing of biotherapeutics.

Dr. Darrin Disley, Chief Executive Officer, Horizon Discovery, commented:
“Horizon was the first company to take a license for CRISPR from ERS Genomics, and currently holds what we believe to be the broadest access to this technology. CRISPR is a key component of our gene editing strategy, and has enabled us to become the ‘Cell Builders’ of choice for partners and customers whose aim is to design, engineer and apply gene-edited cells. Now, through this expanded license, we are able to provide unencumbered access to the benefits of this cutting-edge technology for an increased range of high value products and services.”

Mr. Eric Rhodes, Chief Executive Officer, ERS Genomics, said: “Our strong commercial relationship with Horizon has proven to be highly beneficial for both parties.  By enabling Horizon’s continued expansion into novel markets through this expanded license, both organisations are able to gain access to additional revenue streams.”


About Horizon’s gene editing IP portfolio:
Horizon has a very strong IP position around gene editing, which is becoming ever more important as Pharmaceutical companies increasingly only work with partners who have access to the IP needed to protect their programmes. Horizon has taken multiple licenses for the use of CRISPR, including the Berkeley (through ERS Genomics for cell-based applications, and through Caribou Biosciences for in vivo applications), Broad, and Harvard IP suites. In addition, Horizon has an exclusive worldwide license for the use of rAAV gene editing technology from the University of Washington for non-therapeutic applications, making Horizon the only company authorised to utilise this technology commercially in this way, and a worldwide exclusive license from Sigma-Aldrich for the use of ZFN technology in the engineering of in vivo disease models.  Finally, Horizon has exclusive worldwide rights to use a novel transposon-based technology platform with key applications in bioproduction, reference standards, and therapeutic development.  

  • Biomanufacturing: A type of manufacturing that utilises biological systems to produce commercially important biomaterials and biomolecules for use in medicines
  • Biotherapeutic: A therapeutic material produced using biological means, for example an antibody 
  • Cell engineering: The development of cell lines that reflect the genetics of disease found in real patients by use of gene editing
  • CRISPR: A gene editing technology that enables genomic modifications in a wide variety of organisms and tissues with high efficiency
  • In vivo:  processes performed or taking place in a living organism
  • Transposons: pieces of DNA that are able to move from one site to another within one genome and function both as a driver of evolution by contributing to the formation of new genes, and serve to support certain regulatory functions in cells

For further information from Horizon Discovery Group plc, please contact:

Horizon Discovery Group plc
Darrin Disley, Chief Executive Officer
Richard Vellacott, Chief Financial Officer
Chris Claxton, VP Investor Relations 
Tel: +44 (0) 1223 655 580
Numis Securities Limited (Broker and NOMAD)
Michael Meade / Freddie Barnfield 
Tel: +44 (0) 207 260 1000
Consilium Strategic Communications (Financial Media and Investor Relations)
Mary-Jane Elliott / Matthew Neal / Melissa Gardiner
Tel: +44 (0) 20 3709 5701

Zyme Communications (Trade and Regional Media)
Katie Odgaard
Tel: +44 (0)7787 502 947
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7653 4000
For ERS Genomics, please contact:
MacDougall Biomedical Communications
Mario Brkulj or Cammy Duong
Main: +49 89 24243494 or +1 781 235 3060 or

About Horizon Discovery Group plc
Horizon Discovery Group plc (LSE: HZD) ("Horizon") is a world leader in gene editing and gene modulation technologies. Horizon designs and engineers cells using its translational genomics platform, a highly precise and flexible suite of DNA editing tools (rAAV, ZFN, CRISPR and Transposon) and, following the acquisition of Dharmacon, Inc., its functional genomics platform comprising gene knockdown (RNAi) and gene expression (cDNA, ORF) tools, for research and clinical applications that advance human health. Horizon’s platforms and capabilities enable researchers to alter almost any gene or modulate its function in human or mammalian cell-lines.

Horizon offers an extensive range of catalogue products and related research services to support a greater understanding of the function of genes across all species and the genetic drivers of human disease and the development of personalised molecular, cell and gene therapies. These have been adopted by over 10,000 academic, drug discovery, drug manufacturing and clinical diagnostics customers around the globe, as well as in the Company’s own R&D pipeline.

Horizon is headquartered in Cambridge, UK, and is listed on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM market under the ticker “HZD”

About ERS Genomics
ERS Genomics was formed to provide broad access to the foundational CRISPR-Cas9 intellectual property held by Dr. Emmanuelle Charpentier. Non-exclusive licenses are available for research and sale of products and services across multiple fields including: research tools, kits, reagents; discovery of novel targets for therapeutic intervention; cell lines for discovery and screening of novel drug candidates; GMP production of healthcare products; livestock; production of industrial materials such as enzymes, biofuels and chemicals; and synthetic biology. For additional information please visit