Months after big funding round, Touchlight signs supply deal for Versameb pipeline – Endpoints News
A UK based CDMO landed a supply contract with Versameb to contribute its doggie DNA to the company’s pipeline, including for its lead candidate to treat stress urinary incontinence.
Touchlight will supply Versameb with its DNA enzyme as the biotech prepares to enter VMB-100 into Phase I clinical trials in the second half of this year. The agreement will allow Versameb to use Touchlight’s dbDNA, also known as doggybone DNA, for all future products in the pipeline.
dbDNA is a covalently closed, linear, double-stranded DNA vector adaptable to a number of genetic drugs, making it highly scalable. It eliminates bacterial sequences and can be produced faster than other types of DNA. dbDNA offers a synthetic alternative to plasmid RNA, a key component of mRNA-based vaccines and therapies. It can take just five days to produce compared to more typical manufacturing months, and has a smaller manufacturing footprint. This means it can be quickly scaled up and is highly transportable.
Touchlight provides DNA as a starting material as well as an active pharmaceutical ingredient. Because its DNA is synthetic, CEO Karen Fallen said it’s vital to the market, as the enzymatic manufacturing process can be completed in just five days, a huge change from microbial and E. coli manufacturing.
“What you put in, you get out. It closely replicates what you get, so we don’t have the same stability issues that you can have with E. coli,” she said in an interview with Terminal news. “They have decided to use us not only for their lead candidate, but for all molecules in their pipeline, which is very exciting for us.”
She added that Touchlight sees the move as strong validation of its technology.
In September, the company announced that it would nearly double its workforce in the UK and North America, from around 65 employees to 125 by the end of the year. This news follows its $125 million funding round in March, which led the company to build capacity to triple dbDNA production. The company hopes it will become the largest manufacturer of synthetic DNA in the world.
“We are excited to carry out the necessary activities to bring our lead asset to the clinic as soon as possible,” Versameb CEO Klaas Zuideveld said in a statement. “Working with a company like Touchlight and using dsDNA as the starting material for the production of our mRNA therapies ensures an innovative production process and a competitive advantage. The high stability, quality and speed offered by synthetic DNA replication, the starting material for mRNA, plays a key role in the production of Versameb’s proprietary biologically optimized VERSagile mRNA pipeline.
Toughlight is also working with Vanderbilt University and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency – also known as DARPA – on the development of DNA vaccines for head and neck cancer and Covid-19, as well as research synthetic DNA-based antibodies.