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Horizon Discovery Joins Personalized Medicine Consortium; Gets Grant

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – UK translational genomics firm Horizon Discovery said that it has joined a personalized medicine consortium created last year to apply functional genomics to develop drugs and identify biomarkers that may be predictive of drug responses.

As part of Horizon's participation in the program, called the Personalized RNA Interference to Enhance the Delivery of Individualised Cytotoxic and Targeted therapeutics consortium, or PREDICT, the company is being given a €300,000 ($392,607) award under the EU Seventh Framework Programme.

Horizon will develop novel human isogenic disease models for predicting the activity of potential drugs in patients who have specific genetic biomarkers identified in the program, the company said in a statement. The data can then be used with other patient data to determine the make-up of new clinical trials.

In a statement, Horizon CEO Chris Torrance said that as new information arises about how cancer develops, "defining what patients should be selected for clinical trials based upon predictive biomarker data is a holy grail in personalized medicine and Horizon is delighted to be part of this world-class consortium."

PREDICT was created in 2009 "to coordinate single drug clinical trials with personalised tumour functional genomic analysis to define patient-specific drug sensitivity pathways and biomarkers predictive of drug response," according to its website. Horizon added that the consortium "integrates expertise in renal carcinoma clinical trial recruitment, whole-genome sequencing technologies, ex vivo cancer cell line cultures, and personalized RNA interference screening technologies."

Partners in the consortium include the Technical University of Denmark, Cancer Research UK, the Welcome Trust Sanger Institute, Institut of Gustave Rousey, The Royal Marsden NHS Trust, and Bayer.

The award to Horizon under PREDICT follows a $500,000 award earlier this year that the firm is sharing with the University of Torino Medical School to develop models of inherited and somatic genetic variation for research into new drugs and diagnostics for cancer. That project is funded under the EUREKA program and EUFP7.