Touchlight and Versameb in enzymatic DNA development and manufacturing deal

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/ktsimage
© GettyImages/ktsimage

Related tags plasmid DNA Gene therapy mRNA therapeutics lentivirus

UK headquartered Touchlight has agreed a development and manufacturing pipeline agreement with Swiss company, Versameb.

The deal provides the Basel-based firm with Touchlight’s doggybone DNA (dbDNA) vector technology to support its development of mRNA-based therapeutics addressing unmet needs in urology and oncology.

Versameb’s proprietary VERSagile platform is designed to enhance the effectiveness of RNA and target multiple proteins simultaneously within a single molecule. The company’s lead candidate, VMB-100, is targeted at Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI), which is expected to enter clinical development in the second half of 2022.

Touchlight DNA Services, a contract development and manufacturing organization, (CDMO) provides enzymatic DNA development and manufacturing for all advanced therapy production, including mRNA, viral and non-viral gene therapy and DNA API.

Touchlight’s dbDNA is a minimal, linear, double stranded, covalently closed DNA vector which is produced through an enzymatic manufacturing process. It can accommodate genes of interest of more than 20kb. The organization says it is linearly scalable, making it highly adaptable to support a range of genetic medicines.

Karen Fallen, CEO, Touchlight DNA Services says dbDNA has shown superior yield and genetic stability compared to conventional plasmid methods in mRNA production as well as faster GMP manufacturing. 

“Genetic medicine has proven its potential and is now expected to become a key element in the toolbox of healthcare professionals. However, manufacturing processes also have to evolve, in order to overcome existing bottlenecks. Innovations, such as dbDNA, will be crucial for the advancement of the industry.”

JV restructured 

Last month, we reported on how AskBio, a gene therapy company owned and operated as a subsidiary of Bayer AG, and Touchlight has restructured their former joint venture, Touchlight AAV.

Under the revised arrangement, which was implemented on February 1, both parties have co-exclusive rights to independently supply the Adeno-Associated Virus (AAV) market with dbDNA through their respective independently owned CDMOs.

Fallen told us: “Following the re-structure, the two CDMOs offering dbDNA will be Touchlight DNA Services and the newly named TAAV, the successor of Touchlight AAV and now fully owned by AskBio/Bayer."

The restructuring of the joint venture was initiated due to the growth of Touchlight DNA Services, she said.

While the CDMO has been supporting the genetic medicines industry in all other markets, including mRNA, lentivirus, non-viral gene therapy, gene editing, and DNA vaccines, for several years already, it is now able to extend its offering to the AAV market directly, thus targeting all areas of advanced therapy, said Fallen.

Bayer and AskBio also saw the benefit in having more vertical integration of the dbDNA technology. “Therefore, the new, mutually beneficial agreement will enable better flexibility for both parties and better access to dbDNA for the market,”​ added the spokesperson.

TAAV will retain its right to manufacture AAV dbDNA both for AskBio’s internal product development pipeline as well as continuing to provide AAV dbDNA to third-party customers from its new, recently completed state-of-the-art facility in San Sebastian, Spain.

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