Touchlight receives $2.4m to advance doggybone DNA platform

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded Touchlight $2.4 million in funding to further preclinical development of its doggybone DNA vaccine platform.

According to Touchlight, the funding will be used to advance preclinical data that has shown the potential of nanoparticle-formulated doggybone DNA (dbDNA) to provide strong antibody titers and durable T cell responses following vaccine administration.

Part of the grant will also be put towards investigating the performance of dbDNA for therapeutic monoclonal antibody (mAb) manufacturing. If the platform successfully demonstrates effectiveness in DNA vaccines and gene therapy applications, then Touchlight says it could possibly enable rapid pandemic response and contribute to the global availability of medicines.

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“The award will primarily be focussed on undertaking in vivo studies to demonstrate performance of formulated dbDNA against current industry gold standards,” Helen Horton, chief research officer at Touchlight told BioProcess Insider.

“Doggybone DNA (dbDNA) will be formulated to increase potency, breadth, and durability of immune response. In addition, Touchlight will be evaluating formulated dbDNA for enhanced monoclonal antibody production from muscle and increased durability of monoclonal antibody production.”

Touchlight claims its enzymatic approach allows for quick and scalable DNA production in a significantly reduced footprint when compared with fermentation-based approaches. Furthermore, the firm says it removes antibiotic-resistance genes that could be found in plasmid DNA, increasing safety.

“This work will be conducted over the next 20 months and enable us to begin immediately on advancing the platform within prophylactic vaccines,” said Horton.

Pfizer licensed Touchlight’s doggybone technology in July for the manufacture of messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics, vaccines, and gene therapies. And two months later, Swiss contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) Lonza integrated Touchlight’s technology into its mRNA manufacturing offering.