Astellas, Twist Join Forces to Enhance Tumor Immunity
Twist Bioscience and Astellas have entered into a research collaboration and exclusive option license agreement to identify potential therapeutic antibodies which would help to reduce tumor microenvironment-mediated immunosuppression.
Through the agreement, the companies will collaborate on research activities to identify and optimize proprietary Twist antagonist antibodies that will target an undisclosed checkpoint inhibitor pathway in the tumor microenvironment (TME). By blocking the pathway, a potential therapeutic could contribute to enhancing anti-tumor immunity in combination with other Astellas therapies, including chimeric antigen receptor-based (CAR) technologies.
“Our robust antibody discovery and optimization capabilities uniquely position us to develop antibodies with high affinity and specificity for historically difficult targets, such as those mediating immune suppression in the TME,” Emily M. Leproust, Ph.D., CEO and co-founder of Twist said in a statement. “This out-licensing agreement validates the capabilities of Twist-generated antibodies to enable the discovery and advancement of next-generation therapies. As the first out-licensing agreement for Twist Biopharma, this deal will serve as an initial base that we intend to build on as we pursue increasingly larger and later stage out-licensing opportunities with additional partners and targets.”
Twist will receive an upfront payment from Astellas under the terms of the agreement as well as an additional payment if licensing options are exercised. Astellas will be responsible for the development, manufacturing and commercialization of any licensed products and Twist will receive payments connected to success-based clinical milestones and royalty payments on licensed product sales.
Astellas will leverage its convertibleCAR cell therapy technology, which allows for flexible, sequential and multiplex targeting to find better ways to find, modulate and destroy cancer cells throughout the body. Currently, there are no antibodies in clinical development for the pathway the two companies plan to target, making it a potentially innovative healthcare solution for oncological targets.
Twist and MediSix are in collaboration to target T-cell leukemia and lymphoma. The agreement stated that Twist would leverage its proprietary Library of Libraries to discover five novel antibodies directed against MediSix’s targets and MediSix would use its unique platform technologies to develop CAR-T cell therapies targeting malignancies and autoimmune diseases.
Twist and Gingko Bioworks entered into a four-year agreement which included an increased commitment by Gingko to purchase products from Twist. Gingko purchases synthetic DNA from Twist to test hundreds of thousands of proteins across dozens of programs for its customers in a variety of industries.
Additionally, Twist launched its Twist High Throughput Antibody Production platform in April. The platform is a gene-to-antibody production platform that enables customers to turn candidate DNA sequences into purified antibodies for therapeutic discovery and screening applications. The platform is intended to provide a comprehensive and efficient solution to antibody production and purification, which has previously been costly.
Twist highlighted its new platform at The Essential Protein Engineering and Cell Therapy Summit earlier this month, touting its depth and breadth of antibody discovery and construction capabilities. The presentations covered a variety of applications, such as next generating synthetic libraries for enzyme engineering, cell therapy and gene editing technologies, leveraging synthetic libraries to enable effective antibody discovery and advanced antibody discovery workflows.