Cobra and Touchlight Collaborate on Production of Next Generation DNA Constructs

Keele and London, UK, 7th June 2016: Cobra Biologics Ltd (Cobra), international CDMO of biologics and pharmaceuticals, and Touchlight, a London based emerging biotech with a novel enzyme technology for large scale production of DNA, are collaborating on a project to optimise the manufacture of Adeno-Associated Virus (AAV) vectors used in the delivery of gene therapy treatments. The collaboration aims to evaluate a platform for the safe and rapid production of AAV vectors, using Touchlight’s next generation dbDNA™ constructs, in conjunction with Cobra’s CDMO capabilities. The collaborative project is being led by Cobra and is partially funded by Innovate UK who has awarded £320K as part of their ongoing support for regenerative medicine and cell therapy development.

Adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors are the current delivery vehicle of choice for a large number of gene therapy treatments, due to their safety and efficacy. However, the advancement of these therapies into clinical trials is currently hampered by the time and expense required to manufacture the DNA constructs used to generate the viral vectors. This collaboration will use a combination of Cobra and Touchlight’s strengths in order to evaluate a novel platform for the production of AAV vectors. Cobra will bring process development, GMP bioprocessing and quality assurance experience for plasmid DNA and viral vectors coupled with its significant operational knowledge of large scale manufacturing processes. Touchlight will supply novel dbDNA™ constructs made using their proprietary enzymatic manufacturing process technology for the production of the AAV vectors. Touchlight’s technology is capable of generating large quantities of DNA and has the major advantage of being suitable for use with larger DNA inserts and gene sequences that are unstable in plasmid based systems.

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.

Peter Coleman, CEO Cobra Biologics commented: “For over 15 years Cobra has been helping customers to manufacture their plasmid DNA and viral based medicines for gene therapy and regenerative medicine. In a rapidly growing sector pressure to save time and money in manufacturing is even more acute and the collaboration between Cobra and Touchlight will help to address expectations of the gene therapy and regenerative medicine community, their investors and patients.”

Jonny Ohlson, CEO of Touchlight said: “Touchlight has developed a versatile and scalable technology for manufacturing DNA to meet the demands of the ever expanding landscape of DNA enabled industries. As a part of our ongoing development, we are looking to further the use of our platform in biopharmaceutical manufacturing. Cobra has a great deal of experience in the manufacture of viral vectors and has credibility in the industry, and this collaboration will provide an opportunity to further evidence the utility of dbDNA™ and advance AAV vector manufacturing processes”.

The project is Cobra’s second to be awarded as part of Innovate UK 2015 funding for the development of regenerative medicines and cell therapies. In total £8 million has been invested into five collaborative R&D projects that address critical challenges faced by UK companies developing clinical treatments and commercial products in these areas. 

About Touchlight           
Touchlight Genetics Ltd is a biotechnology company operating in the field of DNA therapies and DNA technology. Touchlight’s proTL™ process is capable of large-scale enzymatic manufacture of doggybone™ closed linear DNA (dbDNA™). The DNA produced is distinctive in its structure, enabling the insertion of long and difficult sequences, and is manufactured without the requirement for bacterial fermentation.

The company has established strong collaborative links with academic laboratories worldwide including University College London, Imperial College London, Southampton University, and the University of Pennsylvania in the US. Touchlight is also working with industry users of DNA to support their therapeutic pipeline developments. 

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