A Discussion on Antibody Development and Engineering With Twist Biopharma
Twist Biopharma is a division of Twist Bioscience with a mission to solve some of the world’s most intractable health challenges through next-generation drug development. In the three short years since Twist Biopharma’s launch, it’s formed more than 20 partnerships that have now led to 25 active programs that range in application from oncology to veterinary medicine.
And, there’s likely many more to come as the Twist Biopharma team continues to build out its services.
Twist Biopharma Product Manager Melina Mathur, Ph.D., recently spoke about Twist Biopharma’s services, partnerships, and future in therapeutic discovery with Lu Rahman of the Drug Discovery World podcast.
Here are just a few highlights from their conversation:
Could you give us a brief synopsis of Twist Biopharma and the main areas it's currently working in?
Melina: “Twist Biopharma offers proprietary ready-to-use synthetic antibody libraries called our Library of Libraries, which includes naïve and target-focused antibody diversity for general and hard-to-drug targets, like GPCRs and ion channels. Each of our libraries contains around 10 billion unique human antibody sequences, and we've built them using various antibody scaffolds, including IgG, scFv, Fab, and VHH.”
Are you able to share some examples of the companies Twist Biopharma is partnering with and how it worked?
Melina: “We're partnering with many pharma and biotech players in the drug development space. As an example, last year, we partnered with Takeda to help level up their biologics discovery capacity. Takeda is licensing Twist’s library of libraries, and we're working together to support them in their discovery and optimization of new antibody candidates. This has been a fantastic partnership as we’re combining our cutting-edge libraries and proprietary silicon platform, together with Takeda’s deep insight into therapeutic drug discovery and development, to expand a growing pipeline of targeted biologic candidates.
“Another example of a great partnership that we have is with biotech company Invetx. Invetx is a pioneer in protein-based therapeutics for animal health, and we're partnering with them for the discovery and optimization of novel antibodies for the treatment of serious diseases in dogs and cats. Invetx is also partnering with us to create proprietary antibody libraries for veterinary species to extend their ability to develop best-in-class antibody therapeutics and translate some of the biotechnology approaches that have already been proven successful for human therapeutics.
“These two examples show that partners can work with us through this whole library licensing antibody discovery, antibody optimization workflow; or, they can partner with us just on the elements that fit their needs. This model has worked very well for our partners and us. And just this last quarter, we announced three new collaborations: one with Kyowa Kirin, another with Stanford's Innovative Medicines Accelerator, and another with Pure Biologics.”
How has Twist Biopharma adapted and grown during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Melina: “In March of last year, we quickly partnered up with Vanderbilt University to build a proprietary synthetic antibody discovery library based on a large number of antibody sequences from a patient who had recovered from COVID-19. We then biopanned against both a library that we built in partnership with them and proprietary libraries that we had built in-house to rapidly discover anti-ACE2 and anti-S1 protein antibodies in just six weeks. Since then, we've progressed these antibody therapeutic leads to animal studies and are in preclinical development.”
Where do you see the opportunities and challenges within the antibodies market for the next five years?
Melina: “In terms of the challenges... I think the main challenge is finding new sources for antibodies. Still, here I see a lot of opportunity for looking into newer spaces, such as VHHs, bovine antibodies, and CAR-T, to build large, unbiased libraries to screen against. And this is something at Twist that we're already looking to tackle. We have already built some libraries in this space.”
Click on over to the Drug Discovery World podcast to listen to their whole conversation.
What did you think?