UK-based life sciences group Horizon Discovery has in-licensed a novel kinase inhibitor programme from France’s Servier in a deal that could potentially add more than £50 million to its books.

The selected candidates “exhibit great promise” based on preclinical data for a range of cancer types, but do not currently have a biomarker to define a target patient population. Horizon’s job is to identify the patients most likely to respond to the compounds, using its isogenic cell lines and in vivo models, CRISPR-Cas9 mediated gene editing technology and ultra-high-throughput combination screening.

The firm also aims to verify whether the candidates work best as monotherapies or in combination with other drugs to help shape their development strategy, and also has the option to explore their use across other therapeutic indications.

Under the agreement, Servier holds first option to license back the assets and, should it choose to do so, Horizon could bag up to £50 million in milestone payments plus royalties on product sales. If the French drugmaker doesn’t take up the option, Horizon is free to seek other partners, with both then sharing in the success of the programme moving forward.

“This innovative deal, as part of our strategy to drive accelerated growth, offers significant upside potential for our investors built upon the leverage of our intellectual property, technology platforms and know-how,” said Darrin Disley, Horizon’s chief executive.