Pfizer licenses plasmid DNA-alternative tech from Touchlight

Touchlight will license its patented doggybone DNA (dbDNA) technology to Pfizer for the manufacture of mRNA therapeutics, vaccines, and gene therapies.

The agreement will provide Pfizer with access to Touchlight’s dbDNA patent rights, which the firm said will allow it to rapidly produce DNA templates as starting materials for messenger RNA (mRNA)-based vaccines and other therapeutics.

“dbDNA is a minimal, linear, covalently closed DNA vector that contains no bacterial sequences such as antibiotic resistance genes or origins of replication,” a spokesperson for Touchlight told us.

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“The dbDNA vector is an alternative to plasmid DNA in advanced therapy manufacturing and performs equivalently or better than plasmid in applications including viral vector production, mRNA production, genome editing, non-viral gene therapy and DNA vaccines.”

Touchlight told this publication in December 2021 that dbDNA would be the “ideal tech” for pandemic vaccine response and the spokesperson reaffirmed this by saying that due to the platform’s “proprietary in-vitro enzymatic method, Touchlight can amplify any circular DNA template to produce synthetic dbDNA vectors, including those sequences that are typically considered unstable in E.coli, such as polyA tails and inverted terminal repeats (ITRs).”

Touchlight claims it is already making “significant” investments in its production capabilities, adding that is constructing a “further 11-suite production facility in Hampton, UK, with capacity online in Q4 2022.”

Financial details of the deal remain undisclosed, but Touchlight  confirmed that it will receive an upfront payment, in addition to clinical and commercial milestone payments and royalties dependent on commercialization.