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May 15, 2014

Horizon Buys CombinatoRx' cHTS, Chalice from Zalicus for $8M

  • Horizon Discovery Group will acquire the CombinatoRx service business and related assets from Zalicus, in a £4.74 million (about $8 million) deal that complements the buyer’s gene editing and drug discovery and development expertise with the acquired company’s combination high-throughput screening (cHTS), which will now be offered globally.

    The combined company, a wholly-owned Horizon subsidiary to be named Horizon CombinatoRx, will offer access to the cHTS platform and Chalice™ analytics software, which is designed to enable the screening and analysis of thousands of complementary drug combinations.

    Horizon reasons it can combine the cHTS platform with its GENESIS™ (rAAV, CRISPR & ZFN) gene editing platform and X-MAN™ isogenic cell line technology, so that Horizon CombinatoRx can able to offer services that include phenotypic cell-based screens with compound siRNA, shRNA, and sgRNA (for CRISPR based screening) libraries.

    The deal allows the CombinatoRx business to expand its customer base beyond North America, into Europe, Japan and beyond by tapping into Horizon’s business development infrastructure and base of more than 800 customers.

    Assets acquired by Horizon—developed through a cumulative R&D investment of more than $30 million—include two fully integrated robotic screening platforms optimized for combination screening, outstanding customer contracts, the Chalice informatics platform and its library of about 800 cell lines, and an extensive compound and chemical probe library.

    Horizon CombinatoRx will be located in 23,000 square feet of laboratory and office space in the Kendall Square section of Cambridge, MA, a site the company said will provide a base for the future growth of Horizon’s North American business operations.

    Jeb Ledell, Zalicus’ vp of corporate operations, will serve as COO of Horizon CombinatoRx, leading the subsidiary’s operations and R&D team, while Horizon executive Lydia Meyer Turkson will serve as vp, business development.

    “The scalable and proven cHTS and Chalice platform combined with our world-leading translational genomics technologies significantly broadens the portfolio of discovery research services we can offer to our global customer base,” Horizon CEO Darrin M. Disley, Ph.D., said in a statement.

    Zalicus President and CEO Mark H.N. Corrigan, M.D., added that the sale of cHTS, will increase his company’s cash balance and should provide Zalicus shareholders with a greater ownership position in its planned merger with Epirus Biopharmaceuticals, announced April 16.


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