SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.– Twist Bioscience Corporation (NASDAQ: TWST), a company enabling customers to succeed through its offering of high-quality synthetic DNA using its silicon platform, today announced it has entered into a research collaboration and exclusive option license agreement with Astellas Pharma Inc. Under the terms of the agreement, the companies will jointly conduct research activities to identify and optimize proprietary Twist antagonist antibodies, targeting an undisclosed checkpoint inhibitor pathway in the tumor microenvironment (TME), as potential therapeutic development candidates. Ligands in this pathway are found in relatively high concentrations in the tumor microenvironment. Blocking the receptor’s activation has the potential to markedly enhance anti-tumor immunity with other Astellas therapies including chimeric antigen receptor-based (CAR) technologies combined with Universal Donor Cells. Astellas will have the exclusive option to license any development candidates generated as part of the collaboration.
“Our robust antibody discovery and optimization capabilities uniquely position us to develop antibodies with high affinity and specificity for historically difficult targets, such as those mediating immune suppression in the TME,” said Emily M. Leproust, Ph.D., CEO and co-founder of Twist Bioscience. “This out-licensing agreement validates the capabilities of Twist-generated antibodies to enable the discovery and advancement of next generation therapies. As the first out-licensing agreement for Twist Biopharma, this deal will serve as an initial base that we intend to build on as we pursue increasingly larger and later stage out-licensing opportunities with additional partners and targets.”
Targeting this pathway with antibody therapeutics is a novel approach with no antibodies in clinical development. Developing next-generation checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapies using new modalities is promising as an innovative healthcare solution. Through this collaboration we expect to stimulate a highly specific and targeted attack on cancer cells by optimizing these development candidates, and leveraging Astellas’ flexible convertibleCAR™ cell therapy technology.
Under the terms of the agreement, Twist will receive an upfront payment from Astellas as well as an additional payment upon the exercise of the licensing option. Twist will receive payments connected to success-based clinical milestones as well as royalty payments on product sales for each licensed product. Astellas will be responsible for the development, manufacturing and commercialization of any licensed products.