Emily Leproust, Twist CEO

The an­ti­body dis­cov­ery team at Twist bets on mouse mod­el play­er in a boost to its port­fo­lio

Twist Bio­science has come a long way since dip­ping its toes in­to the an­ti­body dis­cov­ery space a cou­ple years ago, spin­ning out its first com­pa­ny just last week to take a Covid-19 an­ti­body in­to the clin­ic. There’s plen­ty more where that came from, CEO Emi­ly Lep­roust says — and she thinks a small biotech’s mice are the key to get­ting there.

Lep­roust is putting down up to $10 mil­lion in cash and an­oth­er $140 mil­lion in stock to buy out Mass­a­chu­setts-based Ab­veris (for­mal­ly known as AbX Bi­o­log­ics) and its fam­i­ly of hy­per­im­mune mouse mod­els, she an­nounced on Mon­day morn­ing. If Ab­veris hits an in­ter­nal rev­enue tar­get next year, it’s el­i­gi­ble for up to an­oth­er $40 mil­lion in Twist shares.

“It’s one more ar­row to add to our quiver,” Lep­roust said. While Twist spe­cial­izes in syn­thet­ic DNA and boasts an an­ti­body “li­brary of li­braries,” Ab­veris is known for its in vi­vo an­ti­body dis­cov­ery ser­vices.

“Com­bin­ing the two just kind of su­per­charges the of­fer­ing,” Lep­roust said, adding that some cus­tomers might pre­fer to start with a mouse mod­el. “I think it just makes us much more uni­ver­sal for all an­ti­body dis­cov­ery and op­ti­miza­tion needs.”

Twist was found­ed in 2013 to man­u­fac­ture syn­thet­ic DNA by writ­ing it on a sil­i­con chip. It’s a process that al­lows sci­en­tists to make 10,000 genes at a time, ac­cord­ing to SVP of cor­po­rate af­fairs An­gela Bit­ting. Then, about two years ago, the com­pa­ny be­gan us­ing its ro­bust li­braries to help drug­mak­ers dis­cov­er new an­ti­bod­ies.

In the last cou­ple months, the com­pa­ny has land­ed a $720 mil­lion deal with Boehringer In­gel­heim to dis­cov­er an­ti­bod­ies against a broad range of undis­closed tar­gets, and a col­lab­o­ra­tion deal with Swiss-based deep­C­DR Bi­o­log­ics to screen and iden­ti­fy an­ti­body can­di­dates through deep learn­ing.

Last week, Twist un­veiled Rev­e­lar Bio­ther­a­peu­tics, its first spin­out to de­vel­op and com­mer­cial­ize an an­ti­body that Lep­roust said neu­tral­ized all known vari­ants of SARS-CoV-2 in pre­clin­i­cal tri­als. If all goes ac­cord­ing to plan, the can­di­date should en­ter the clin­ic next year. And Rev­e­lar can lever­age Twist’s an­ti­body plat­form and li­cense ad­di­tion­al an­ti­bod­ies — all for ad­di­tion­al up­front, mile­stone and roy­al­ty pay­ments to Twist.

Twist has oth­er as­sets in the works, in­clud­ing im­muno-on­col­o­gy tar­gets such as CD4 and PD-1, which Lep­roust says she plans to ei­ther spin or li­cense out. And she’ll be on the look­out for more part­ners like Boehringer.

“Those are the kinds of deals we’re seek­ing,” she said.

The Ab­veris ac­qui­si­tion should bol­ster Twist’s bio­phar­ma rev­enue by about $10 to $12 mil­lion in 2022, CFO Jim Thor­burn said in a state­ment.

“We are very com­mit­ted to bio­phar­ma,” Lep­roust said. “This is the next step in ag­gres­sive­ly grow­ing the busi­ness in that area.”

At the In­flec­tion Point for the Next Gen­er­a­tion of Can­cer Im­munother­a­py

While oncology researchers have long pursued the potential of cellular immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer, it was unclear whether these therapies would ever reach patients due to the complexity of manufacturing and costs of development. Fortunately, the recent successful development and regulatory approval of chimeric antigen receptor-engineered T (CAR-T) cells have demonstrated the significant benefit of these therapies to patients.

Stéphane Bancel, Moderna CEO

'This is not go­ing to be good': Mod­er­na CEO Ban­cel warns of a 'ma­te­r­i­al drop' in vac­cine ef­fi­ca­cy as Omi­cron spreads

Even as public health officials remain guarded about their comments on the likelihood Omicron will escape the reach of the currently approved Covid-19 vaccines, there’s growing scientific consensus that we’re facing a variant that threatens to overwhelm the vaccine barricades that have been erected.

Stéphane Bancel, the CEO of Moderna, one of the leading mRNA players whose quick vault into the markets with a highly effective vaccine created an instant multibillion-dollar market, added his voice to the rising chorus early Tuesday. According to Bancel, there will be a significant drop in efficacy when the average immune system is confronted by Omicron. The only question now is: How much?

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With on­ly burns to show in gene ther­a­py, Astel­las inks deal with AAV spe­cial­ist Dyno in push for a bet­ter cap­sid

On the hunt for a better AAV capsid for gene therapy, Eric Kelsic’s Dyno Therapeutics has set itself apart with its focus on machine learning to help speed discovery. Now, Japanese drugmaker Astellas — fresh off a slate of gene therapy burns — is taking a bet on Dyno as it looks to the future.

Astellas and Dyno will work together as part of an R&D pact to develop next-gen AAV vectors for gene therapy using Dyno’s CapsidMap platform directed at skeletal and cardiac muscle, the companies said Wednesday. Under the terms of the deal, Dyno will design AAV capsids for gene therapy, while Astellas will be responsible for conducting preclinical, clinical and commercialization activities for gene therapy product candidates using the capsids.

Philip Dormitzer, new GSK global head of vaccines R&D

Glax­o­SmithK­line poach­es Pfiz­er's vi­ral vac­cines lead in rush to cap­i­tal­ize on fu­ture of mR­NA

GlaxoSmithKline has appointed Philip Dormitzer, formerly chief scientific officer of Pfizer’s viral vaccines unit, as its newest global head of vaccines R&D, looking to leverage one of the leading minds behind Pfizer and BioNTech’s RNA collaboration that led to Covid-19 jab Comirnaty, the British drug giant said Tuesday.

Dormitzer had been with Pfizer for a little more than six years, joining up after a seven-year stint with Novartis, where he reached the role of US head of research and head of global virology for the company’s vaccines and diagnostics unit.

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In­tro­duc­ing End­points Stu­dio, a new way to ad­ver­tise with End­points-craft­ed brand­ing cam­paigns

Since our start in 2016, Endpoints has grown fast while executing our mission to cover biopharma’s most critical developments for industry pros worldwide. As readership has grown, our advertising business has too. Endpoints advertising partners support the mission and engage their desired audiences through announcements on our email and web platforms, brand recognition in our event coverage and sponsorships of Endpoints daily and weekly reports.

Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Cyril Marcilhacy/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sanofi snaps up new vac­cine can­di­date and de­vis­es mR­NA game plan around it — but not for what you think

Paul Hudson has spotlighted vaccines, immunology and dermatology as some of the top R&D focuses at Sanofi. His latest deal brings all of them together.

The French pharma giant isn’t sharing any financial details about the buyout of Origimm, a low-profile, private Austrian biotech whose technology promises to identify antigens causing skin disease and build vaccines against them. Their lead candidate targets acne vulgaris.

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As first Omi­cron case in US crops up, re­searchers won­der: which an­ti­bod­ies, vac­cines will hold up?

As Covid-19 drug and vaccine developers race to figure out which of their products might be hampered by the new variant, the CDC on Wednesday afternoon announced the first confirmed case of the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) in the US, found in San Francisco.

The unidentified individual was a traveler who returned from South Africa on Nov. 22, 2021, was fully vaccinated, and had mild symptoms that the CDC described as improving. All close contacts have been contacted and have tested negative, the centers said.

Mod­er­na los­es lat­est bat­tle in key vac­cine de­liv­ery patent fight as fed­er­al ap­peal falls flat

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on Wednesday rejected Moderna’s attempt to overturn key patents related to the delivery vehicle for its Covid-19 vaccine after the biotech sought to preempt a potentially risky infringement lawsuit.

For years, Moderna has been battling a tiny Pennsylvania biotech known as Arbutus over patents for a technology required to deliver its mRNA drugs and vaccines, known as lipid nanoparticles or LNP. Moderna is concerned there’s a substantial risk that Arbutus will assert the ’069 patent in an infringement suit targeting Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine, particularly as Arbutus has boasted of its patent protection and refused to grant a covenant not to sue Moderna.

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Lan Huang, BeyondSpring CEO

Months af­ter shock­ing in­vestors with lung can­cer win, Be­yond­Spring's lead drug hits road­block at the FDA

BeyondSpring shocked investors in early August after its once-marginal lead drug suddenly showed a lot of promise in a common form of lung cancer. With hopes high, the FDA has now slammed the door on that drug in another indication — does that spell bad news for BeyondSpring’s Cinderella story?

The FDA issued BeyondSpring a complete response letter for its plinabulin in combination with granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) for the prevention of chemotherapy-induced neutropenia, effectively shutting down the drug’s immediate chances at a marketing approval, the biotech said Wednesday.

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