Twist partners with Takeda on antibody drug discovery

Allie Nawrat 22 July 2020 (Last Updated July 22nd, 2020 10:15)

Takeda has signed an antibody drug discovery agreement with Twist Bioscience. The pair will use Twist’s synthetic ‘Library of Libraries’ to discover and validate antibody candidates for a range of diseases. How can synthetic biology accelerate antibody drug discovery?

Twist partners with Takeda on antibody drug discovery
Twist and Takeda are partnering on discovering antibody drugs for a range of diseases. Credit: Shutterstock.

San Francisco-based synthetic biology company Twist Bioscience has licensed access to its proprietary phage display so-called ‘Library of Libraries’ to Takeda.

The two companies will collaborate to discover, validate and optimise new antibody drug candidates across Takeda’s core therapeutic areas: oncology, rare disease, neurosciences and gastroenterology. Twist will be eligible for annual technology licensing fees, milestone payments and royalties for all compounds discovered using its libraries.

Twist co-founder and CEO Emily Leproust explains this approach of “pursuing unique targets and pairing those with our robust ‘Library of Libraries’” will mean “discovery timelines can be shortened, and the resulting antibodies have the potential to bind key epitopes that may be excluded from immune-based discovery approaches, which may be critical for these diseases”.

This collaboration with Twist is in line with Takeda’s commitment to invest in “next-generation technologies beyond small molecules to bring a new wave of innovative treatments to patients”, explains Takeda’s head of global biologics research Robert Mabry. “With our best-in-class biologics discovery capabilities we’re pursuing approaches that go beyond traditional monoclonal antibodies.”

Twist’s ‘Library of Libraries’

Twist focuses on developing synthetic DNA libraries that can be “used by pharmaceutical companies during the antibody discovery process”. Leproust explains that synthetic libraries are particularly “useful in this process, as they produce customised, controllable groups of antibodies from specific DNA sequences to run through assays that assess function, toxicity and binding affinity”.

As part of its new biopharma division, Twist has developed the ‘Library of Libraries’, which is an unprecedented library of synthetic antibodies developed using its proprietary silicon-based approach.

“Our ‘Library of Libraries’ is an incredibly robust set of antibody libraries, which utilise different antibody fragment scaffolds, as well as different sources of human antibody repertoires,” adds Leproust. “There are more than 10 billion antibodies in each library within the library of libraries.  By increasing the number of total libraries, we can dramatically increase the diversity of our entire library of libraries.”

Having this scale and diversity available means “there is a greater likelihood to find high-affinity binding antibodies and to subsequently optimise for specific properties.”

Leproust adds that the reason why the ‘Library of Libraries’ uses phage display is “because it allows the construction of libraries against almost any antigen, eliminates the need for immunisation and hybridoma protocols, and can be made to express human or human-like antibodies”.

Takeda as the “ideal” partner

Takeda’s collaboration with Twist provides the Japanese pharma giant with access to the ‘Library of Libraries’ to help “accelerate the discovery and development of novel biologics across our core therapeutic areas”, notes Mabry.

“Twist’s unique ability to generate robust, diverse and cutting-edge libraries through its proprietary silicon platform together with our deep insight into therapeutic drug discovery and development will help us expand Takeda’s growing pipeline of targeted biologic candidates,” adds Mabry.

Takeda’s “incredible expertise in drug discovery development”, combined with having a “savvy team…deep pipeline and [being] eager to access unique next-generation DNA technologies that can truly make a difference for drug discovery” is why Leproust calls Takeda the “ideal partner for Twist”.

Leproust is hopeful that by combining their expertise, Takeda and Twist will be able to “truly forge new frontiers in bringing personalised therapies to patients worldwide”.