The platform is based on UK-based Touchlight’s dbDNA technology, which is used to make the DNA constructs that encode the proteins of which the viral vectors are composed.
Cobra’s role in the project – which is being partially funded by a £320K grant from Government agency Innovate UK – will be to manufacture the adeno associated virus (AAV) vectors based on the constructs.
The firms say “streamlining the manufacturing of AAV vectors will enable the acceleration of more products into clinical testing, which in turn will increase the likelihood of AAV vector delivered treatments being developed for a wide range of currently intractable diseases.”
Cobra CSO Dan Smith told us the idea is “to combine Cobra's Plasmid DNA service offering and experience with Touchlight’s 'doggybone DNA' technology to deliver a rapid and cost effective route to generate critical DNA starting material for the production of viral vectors for gene therapy products.”
He predicted that the combination could reduce the time it takes to develop DNA for plasmid production by up to 30%.
Teaming with Touchlight will also strengthen Cobra's position is this type of specialist contracting according to Smith.
"There are around 6-10 global CMOS offering AAV manufacture - the aim is for Cobra to have a faster service offering in order to allow customers faster access to first in man studies thereby expediting the pipeline of AAV products."
The collaboration is the second AAV-focused project for with Cobra has received funding from Innovate UK.
In April 2015 the firm teamed up with Tecrea to develop vector production methods using the latter’s nanoparticle-based transfection system.
More recently, the contract manufacturing organisation (CMO) partnered with the UK Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) to develop an AAV manufacturing system at the National Biologics Manufacturing Centre (NBMC) in Darlington.