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New Company to Develop Synthetic Antibody Therapies

SARS-CoV-2 particle

Transmission electron micrograph of a SARS-CoV-2 virus particle, isolated from a patient. (NIAID, NIH)

15 Nov. 2021. A new business is underway to develop and commercialize treatments for Covid-19 and other diseases based on synthetic antibody proteins. Revelar Biotherapeutics Inc. is spun-off from synthetic DNA developer Twist Bioscience Corp. in South San Francisco, and staked to a $10 million seed investment from the founding company.

Twist Bioscience develops synthetic genetic materials on a silicon platform, patterned after semiconductors, instead of traditional plastic plates and receptacles. This process, says the company, overcomes conventional limitations and inefficiencies to design and construct genes, and from these synthetic genes, produce libraries of genetic variations. Twist Bio also created a subsidiary, Twist Biopharma, that applies the technology to create collections of synthetic antibodies the company says match genomic sequences occurring in the body.

As reported in Science & Enterprise in September 2021, these collections are made from phage display libraries, protein interactions derived from viruses that infect bacteria called bacteriophages, a tool used increasingly to discover immunotherapies. The Twist Biopharma subsidiary uses these collections of phage display libraries, or “library of libraries” as the company calls it, to identify therapeutic antibody candidates that match existing human genomic sequences.

Neutralizes all known variants of concern

Revelar Biotherapeutics is being formed as a separate company to take synthetic antibodies designed or discovered by Twist Bio into clinical development, through regulatory stages, and to the marketplace. “This transaction,” says Twist Bio CEO and co-founder Emily Leproust in a company statement, “allows Twist to participate in the rapid advancement of therapeutic antibodies while remaining focused on our current opportunities in our core business as well as our biopharma and DNA data storage verticals.” Leproust adds that they aim to have the company’s first discovered antibody enter clinical trials next year.

Revelar’s lead product is an antibody treatment for Covid-19 disease that Twist Bio says in preclinical studies neutralizes all known variants of concern of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In September, three researchers from Twist Bio were among 75 authors of a paper in the journal Science identifying seven receptor binding domains on the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The authors from the Coronavirus Immunotherapeutic Consortium analyzed an initial pool of 269 synthetic antibodies, then sorted 186 of those antibodies into seven communities, addressing each of the receptor binding domain targets.

Twist Bio is providing Revelar a license for exclusive development and commercialization of a Covid-19 synthetic antibody treatment candidate based on this research, as well as a series of back-up antibodies. Revelar is also receiving $10 million in seed funding from Twist Bio. In addition to Covid-19, Revelar says it plans to develop treatments for other infectious diseases, as well as cancer and autoimmune disorders.

In exchange, Twist Bio gains a minority ownership stake in Revelar. Moreover, Twist Bio may receive up to $100 million in development, regulatory, and commercial milestone payments, as well as royalties on future sales. Revelar has an option of licensing up to five more antibody therapy candidates over the next four years, subject to similar milestone and royalty payments.

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