Big News from SynBioBeta

For Twist and other synthetic biology companies, the annual SynBioBeta Summit is like a celebration. Held in San Francisco in early October, the conference helps mark progress in the field. This year, Twist had a lot to talk about.

 

On the conference’s first day, we announced our Twist Innovation Lab, a new program that pairs Twist’s synthetic DNA capabilities with our customers’ needs to scale up and disrupt the industry. We believe the Twist Innovation Lab will advance our customers’ research goals in developing new diagnostics, therapies, chemicals, and biomaterials.”

 

The first product of the Twist Innovation Lab – Gene Pools – offers a perfect example. Until now, researchers had only one option - to work with single genes in single tubes. While this works well, the ability to include up to as many as 180,000 genes in a tube may free researchers to imagine new possibilities for this product, for example including the whole transcriptome or all of the protein kinases in a single tube. The scale-up is staggering, allowing for massively parallel investigations, freeing the imagination to explore new concepts.

 

“These high-quality Gene Pools maximize efficiency and reduce costs,” says Twist CEO and co-founder Emily M. Leproust, PhD. “These high-quality gene fragments are as long as 1,000 base pairs and have exceptionally low error rates.”

 

This advance builds on a spectacular run, and Twist is just getting started. This year, Twist launched long oligonucleotides, as long as 300 bases. Making oligos longer than 150 to 200 bases has been extremely challenging – the chemistry was just too difficult. But Twist’s silicon platform (and brilliant chemists and engineers) have gotten it done. In addition, Emily announced during her Lightening Talk on Wednesday that the company had delivered eight BILLION bases in fiscal 2019. That’s a heck of a lot of DNA! That’s just a warmup, and we expect 2020 will be even bigger.

 

Emily also announced that Twist Biopharma, a division of Twist Bioscience, has confirmed three functional antibody leads that target G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), incredibly important signaling molecules that play a major role in drug discovery. These new leads could have big therapeutic implications.

 

Circling back to SynBioBeta, chief technology officer Bill Peck, Ph.D., highlighted Twist’s efforts to enable DNA data storage on a panel moderated by Wired Magazine reporter Megan Molteni. Bill predicted that DNA data storage would be commercially viable in the next three to five years, with panelists agreeing and confirming that ultimate timing depends on government and industry investment in this field. Later, chief scientific officer of Twist Biopharma, Aaron Sato, Ph.D., participated in The New Pharma panel moderated by TechNation’s Moira Gunn, Ph.D. The panel discussed how synthetic biology can advance antibody discovery to provide better treatments, and get them to the market in an expeditious way.