T-cells attacking cancer cell  illustration of  microscopic photos
T-cells attacking cancer cell illustration of microscopic photosT-cells attacking cancer cell illustration of microscopic photos [ royaltystockphoto/Getty Images]

Synthetic DNA maker Twist Bioscience and chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) therapeutics development company MediSix Therapeutics announced today the two companies will collaborate on the discovery of candidate antibodies against five undisclosed therapeutic targets.

Under the terms of the deal, Twist will apply its “Library of Libraries” to discover the antibodies to apply against the MediSix-identifed targets. For its part, MediSix will leverage its unique protein expression blocker (PEBL) platform for the development of novel CAR T-cell therapies targeting malignancies and autoimmune diseases. While the exact financial details were not disclosed Twist has received an up front payment for its services and is also eligible to receive clinical and regulatory milestone payments, as well as royalties on product sales.

“We believe Twist’s exceptional antibody discovery and optimization platform and extensive libraries, coupled with the company’s ability to move quickly and efficiently, will support our efforts to develop effective immune cell therapies that specifically modulate relevant molecules and combat T-cell malignancies and autoimmune diseases,” said Andrew Bruce, CEO of MediSix in a press release.

MediSix was founded in 2016 to target B-cell malignancies by noted cell therapy expert Prof. Dario Campana, who also created of the first anti-CD19 CAR. Its PEBL technology uses single-chain variable fragment (scFv) domains engineered from the binding region of an antibody. This domain localization causes retention of the protein inside the endoplasmic reticulum, which in turn prevents cell-surface protein expression.

When PEBL is combined with CAR “we can therefore treat patients with T-cell malignancies, without the fratricide experienced by traditional CAR therapies to date and avoiding the need for gene editing,” MediSix noted on its website.

Its technology, the company notes, helps solve many of the ongoing challenges associated with CAR therapeutics, including cell fratricide, long-term T-cell aplaia (CAR-T cells killing normal T-cells), while simplifying cell manufacturing to reduce product contamination and improvements in cell viability and reduced cell loss during manufacturing.

“We look forward to collaborating with MediSix to overcome existing challenges of using cell therapy approaches to treat T-cell malignancies, often because of a lack of antigen targets specific to the cancer. Pairing MediSix’s novel targets with our ability to discover and optimize antibodies to efficiently target these devastating cancers has the potential to add an important and needed therapeutic option for patients,” said Emily M. Leproust, CEO and co-founder of Twist Bioscience. “In addition, with MediSix’s locations in Boston, U.S. and Singapore, this agreement deepens our global footprint and presence in the Asia Pacific region, where certain types of T-cell cancers are more prevalent.”

While MediSix is currently focused on the development of CAR-T therapies in oncology, its says it technology can also be applied in the field of autoimmune diseases, an area the company plans to add to its current therapeutic pipeline.

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