Pfizer signs synthetic DNA patent license with Touchlight to support mRNA production

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/PashaIgnatov
© GettyImages/PashaIgnatov

Related tags mRNA Dna Vaccine gene therapies

Touchlight has agreed to a non-exclusive patent license for Pfizer to utilize its enzymatic doggybone DNA (dbDNA).

Under the license agreement, the pharma giant gains rights to Touchlight’s dbDNA patent portfolio for worldwide use in the manufacture and commercialization of its messenger RNA-based vaccines, therapeutics, and gene therapies.

The deal includes upfront payment, potential development and commercial milestone payments, as well as royalties upon commercialization, said Touchlight.

Alternative to plasmid DNA

The UK biotech claims to be disrupting the decades-old technology of DNA production, moving away from “restrictive biological approaches​” to instead use a synthetic DNA vector.

Its patented dbDNA technology, it said produces a minimal, linear, double stranded, covalently closed DNA vector through an enzymatic manufacturing process.

“Doggybone DNA is uniquely positioned for the rapid, synthetic, and scalable manufacture of GMP DNA using a small, simple footprint. It can accommodate genes of interest of more than 20kb and accommodate sequences typically unstable as plasmid DNA in E. coli, such as those found in viral vector and mRNA production.

“In addition to mRNA vaccines, it is ideally suited for the development of DNA vaccines, advanced therapies, and more,”​ according to the developer.

The agreement with Pfizer is an example of the technology’s potential to enable companies across the genetic medicine sector “to simplify and accelerate DNA manufacturing through the clinic and towards commercialization,”​ said Jonny Ohlson, founder and executive chair, Touchlight.

Beyond Pfizer, Touchlight said it is also working with a wide range of companies within genetic medicine, from small biotechnology companies to Big Pharma.

Capacity expansion

The biotech has been making significant investments in production capacity. In addition to its four GMP production suites online in the UK, it is building a further 11-suite production facility in Hampton, UK, with capacity scheduled to be online in Q4 2022.

Touchlight’s contract manufacturing arm, Touchlight DNA services, it told us, also continues to gain momentum in the genetic medicines market.

“The company has engaged over 80 clients in the fields of AAV and lentivirus production, mRNA and DNA vaccines. Additionally, we are increasingly seeing adoption in non-viral gene therapy and genome editing.”

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