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Horizon Licenses Virology X-Man Cell Lines from University of Minnesota

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Horizon Discovery today announced it has licensed on a worldwide exclusive basis new X-Man cell lines from the University of Minnesota, extending the company's X-Man product line into virology.

Horizon also said it has extended an existing agreement, originally reached in March 2010, with the university to license an additional panel of X-Man cell lines related to DNA repair.

The new virology-related cell lines include several rAAV engineered T-cell lines used in AIDS research, HTLV-1 virus studies, and both virus-associated and non-viral T-cell leukemias and lymphomas research. The T-cell lines are knockouts of the APOBEC family of genes, part of the innate host defense system to T-cell viral infections, Horizon said.

The cell lines "will constitute novel screening tools that can be used to enable researchers to identify molecules that leverage this host defense system to fight viral infections," the company said in a statement, adding they also can be used to identify members of the APOBEC family that are "major determinants" of HIV replication suppression, "which will in turn support the identification of other modulators of viral infection."

Horizon will pay UMN upfront and ongoing royalty payments as part of the agreement. In return, the Cambridge, UK-based firm gets the rights to distribute the cell lines.

The deal will contribute to Horizon's strategy to generate at least 2,500 new X-Man models of cancer, neurodegenerative, and cardiovascular disease, which will help new drug developers better understand the genetic basis of complex diseases, and "help rationalize many aspects of drug development," the company said.

Today's announcement follows a licensing deal announced in June between Horizon and Public University Corporation Yokohoma City University for 50 new X-Man cell lines focused on DNA repair.