Emily Leproust, Twist

Twist Bio­science plots its 'fac­to­ry of the fu­ture' in Ore­gon, seeks to ex­pand syn­thet­ic DNA client base

One of the lead­ing play­ers at the fore­front of syn­thet­ic DNA pro­duc­tion, Cal­i­for­nia-based Twist Bio­science has al­ready had a busy 2020. Now, seek­ing to ex­pand its client base and tech­nol­o­gy ca­pa­bil­i­ties even fur­ther, it’s build­ing its “fac­to­ry of the fu­ture.”

Twist, which man­u­fac­tures syn­thet­ic DNA by writ­ing it on a sil­i­con chip plat­form, will build a 110,000-square-foot fa­cil­i­ty near Port­land, Ore­gon, that will more than dou­ble its cur­rent pro­duc­tion ca­pac­i­ty by the time the fa­cil­i­ty is op­er­a­tional in 2022.

Emi­ly Lep­roust, Twist co-founder and CEO, said in a state­ment that the fac­to­ry will al­low Twist to serve client pop­u­la­tions in the biotech sphere that it sim­ply can’t with the com­pa­ny’s cur­rent pro­duc­tion ca­pac­i­ty—hence the name “fac­to­ry of the fu­ture.”

“We are ex­pand­ing our cus­tomer base and ramp­ing pro­duc­tion of our prod­ucts at an ex­cep­tion­al rate,” she said. “The (fac­to­ry) al­lows us to sup­port the in­creas­ing needs of our cus­tomers as they scale glob­al­ly and plan for ag­gres­sive growth in­to syn­thet­ic bi­ol­o­gy and bio­phar­ma mar­ket seg­ments we can­not serve to­day.”

The cap­i­tal out­lay as­so­ci­at­ed with the fa­cil­i­ty, lo­cat­ed more specif­i­cal­ly in Wilsonville, was kept un­der wraps. How­ev­er, Twist said it ex­pect­ed the plant to bring some 400 jobs to the area by the time it’s up and run­ning.

Be­yond its “fac­to­ry of the fu­ture,” Twist has had a busy 2020. Most re­cent­ly, the com­pa­ny in Oc­to­ber an­nounced a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Neo­gene to study CAR-T and TCR ther­a­pies for can­cer pa­tients. Twist will cre­ate a TCR li­brary — a self-pro­claimed “li­brary of li­braries” — to aid Neo­gene’s search for en­gi­neered TCRs against tar­gets in can­cer, and Twist will al­so use the li­brary to dis­cov­er an­ti­bod­ies for fu­ture Neo­gene CAR-T can­di­dates.

In Ju­ly, the com­pa­ny tapped Erin Smith to be its se­nior vice pres­i­dent of gov­ern­ment af­fairs and pub­lic pol­i­cy, a new­ly-cre­at­ed po­si­tion. Smith had pre­vi­ous­ly helped lead the ex­pan­sion of a gov­ern­ment af­fairs pro­gram at Gilead.

And in Feb­ru­ary, Twist and Lep­roust spent $22.5 mil­lion to set­tle one of the biggest is­sues hang­ing over the com­pa­ny — a four-year le­gal bat­tle over Lep­roust’s de­par­ture from Ag­i­lent. Ag­i­lent, a 20-year old syn­thet­ic DNA man­u­fac­tur­er, al­leged that Lep­roust mis­ap­pro­pri­at­ed trade se­crets and was in breach of con­tract when she left Ag­i­lent to start Twist with co-founders Bill Banyai and Bill Peck.

In that set­tle­ment, nei­ther Ag­i­lent nor Twist ad­mit­ted any li­a­bil­i­ty or wrong­do­ing.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) (Francis Chung/E&E News/Politico via AP Images)

In­fla­tion re­bates in­com­ing: Wyden calls on CMS to move quick­ly as No­var­tis CEO pledges re­ver­sal

Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) this week sent a letter to the head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services seeking an update on how and when new inflation-linked rebates will take effect for drugs that see major price spikes.

The newly signed Inflation Reduction Act requires manufacturers to pay a rebate to Medicare when they increase drug prices faster than the rate of inflation.

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The Big Phar­ma dis­card pile; Lay­offs all around while some biotechs bid farewell; New Roche CEO as­sem­bles top team; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

With earnings seasons in full swing, we’ve listened in on all the calls so you don’t have to. But news is popping up from all corners, so make sure you check out our other updates, too.

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Uğur Şahin, BioNTech CEO (Andreas Arnold/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

BioN­Tech opens new plas­mid DNA man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty in Ger­many

German mRNA player BioNTech opened the doors to a new manufacturing facility on Thursday, this one just about 75 miles north of its headquarters in Mainz, Germany.

BioNTech announced on Thursday that it has completed the construction of its first plasmid DNA manufacturing facility in Marburg, Germany. The facility will produce materials for mRNA-based vaccines and therapies along with cell therapies.

Te­va drops out of in­dus­try trade group PhRMA

Following in AbbVie’s footsteps, Teva confirmed on Friday that it’s dropping out of the industry trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

Teva didn’t give a reason for its decision to leave, saying only in a statement to Endpoints News that it annually reviews “effectiveness and value of engagements, consultants and memberships to ensure our investments are properly seated.”

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Sanofi CFO Jean-Baptiste de Chatillon (L) and CEO Paul Hudson (Romuald Meigneux/Sipa via AP Images)

Sanofi sees downtick in flu sales as it preps for launch of RSV an­ti­body

Sanofi expects its RSV antibody jointly developed with AstraZeneca will be available next season, executive VP of vaccines Thomas Triomphe announced on the company’s quarterly call.

Beyfortus, also known as nirsevimab, was approved in the EU back in November and is currently under FDA review with an expected decision coming in the third quarter of this year. The news comes as the FDA plans to hold advisory committee meetings over the next couple months to review RSV vaccines from Pfizer and GSK.

Christophe Weber, Takeda CEO (Photographer: Shoko Takayasu/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Take­da fo­cus­es on ‘di­verse’ pipeline prospects on heels of two ac­qui­si­tions

After a whopping $4 billion asset buy from Nimbus Therapeutics, along with a $400 million deal with Hutchmed for a colorectal cancer drug, Takeda executives touted pipeline optimism on its latest earnings call this week.

That’s because the TYK2 inhibitor for psoriasis Takeda is getting from Nimbus, along with the Hutchmed fruquintinib commercialization outside of China, are just two of what it reports are 10 late-stage development programs of promising candidates.

Regeneron CSO George Yancopoulos (L) and CEO Len Schleifer at a groundbreaking for its new Tarrytown, NY facility, June 2022 (Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

In show­down with Roche, Re­gen­eron gears up for po­ten­tial Eylea ex­pan­sion amid Covid de­cline

Regeneron faced a substantial slump in overall revenue last year, but the focus still remains on some of its biggest blockbusters.

The pharma with several high-profile partnerships — Sanofi and Bayer among them — said Friday that Q4 revenue was down 31% for the quarter, and down 24% for the entire year. However, that won’t stop blockbuster expansion plans.

One of those is Eylea, the Bayer-partnered eye disease drug that has been in major competition with Roche’s Vabysmo. While Eylea is currently only approved in a 2 mg dose, the company recently filed for approval to give a 8 mg dose, in hopes of making a longer-lasting treatment.

BeiGene's new website helps direct cancer patients and caregivers to a wide variety of sources for help.

BeiGene re­veals men­tal health and can­cer care gap in study, de­buts dig­i­tal re­sources

One-fourth of cancer patients are living with depression — and another 20% suffer from anxiety. That’s according to new study results from BeiGene, conducted by Cancer Support Community (CSC), about the mental and emotional health of cancer patients.

While the fact that people with cancer are also dealing with depression or anxiety may not be surprising, what is — and was to BeiGene — is that a majority of them aren’t getting support. 60% of respondents said they were not referred to a mental health professional, and even more concerning, two in five who specifically asked for mental health help did not get it. CSC, a nonprofit mental health in cancer advocacy group, surveyed more than 600 US cancer patients.

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One of the paintings from Gilead's latest campaign making AI art to help MBC patients be 'seen and heard.'

Gilead com­bines ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and art to draw at­ten­tion and hope to MBC

What if you could “see” the emotions and feelings of people living with metastatic breast cancer? That’s what Gilead Sciences’ agency VMLY&R Health did last year, using artificial intelligence and sound analytics to turn the interviews of three women living with metastatic triple-negative breast cancer into works of art.

Using the sound waves, a robotic painting device translated their stories of struggle and hope into colors, contours and brush strokes. The result? An art exhibition called “Paintings of Hope” that was first displayed at ESMO in September in Paris, but has since traveled to hospitals and medical conferences in Europe and Spain.

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