cell immuno antibodyHorizon Discovery Group, the world leader in the application of gene editing technologies including custom screening and specialized assay services, has announced the launch of a new platform for immuno-oncology research. The platform consists of several high throughput assays that enable researchers to test thousands of potential anticancer drugs that recruit the body’s own immune system to fight cancer.

Horizon’s new platform enables researchers to study how new drugs are able to activate different types of immune cells as well as increase their ability to kill tumours. The platform includes high throughput ADCC, CDC, primary T cell activation, mixed lymphocyte reaction and T cell-mediated tumor lysis assays in 384 well format, allowing researchers to test hundreds of new drugs simultaneously.

As cancer cells are very different from normal cells in the body, the immune system attacks them when able to recognize them. However, cancer cells find ways to evade and blunt the immune system, often disguising themselves as normal cells. Immuno-oncology drugs reactivate immune cells, restoring their antitumour activities by enabling their ability to recognize cancer cells and destroy them. On this basis, immuno-oncology has rapidly risen as a promising approach to treat cancer, and the market is currently estimated at £25 billion per year and expected to grow to approximately £50 billion per year by 2020.

Edward Weinstein, PhD, President Services of Horizon Discovery, commented: “Horizon’s new immuno-oncology assays represent a great step forward in this important growth area, building on our greater than 15 years of experience in high-throughput screening with over ten million unique drug combinations screened. The platform allows researchers to test thousands of new immuno-oncology drugs simultaneously, alone or in combination with other drugs. Immuno-oncology is an important focus area for Horizon, and we’re excited that these new assays will accelerate and streamline drug discovery, bringing highly effective new drugs to patients faster than before possible.”

This announcement follows the formation of Avvinity Therapeutics, a joint venture between Horizon and Centauri Therapeutics to capture the upside potential of Horizon’s IP, platform technologies and capabilities in immuno-oncology in order to develop novel therapeutics.  Horizon’s new immuno-oncology research platform will be deployed to support this effort as well as being offered commercially as a set of assay services to clients.