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Pure Biologics partnership fails to invigorate Twist Bioscience’s share price

Twist Bioscience’s [TWST] share price had tied itself in knots so far in 2021, leaving it 4.7% down for the year-to-date at market close on 22 April.

A strong start to 2021 saw Twist Bioscience’s share price climb 47.2% for the year to 20 January, but the stock then fell 24% to $158.02 on 5 February. A series of headwinds, including increasing interest rates, put Twist Bioscience’s share price into freefall. By 8 March the stock closed at $105.48 — 25.3% down since the start of the year.

A quick recovery was then slowed in late March and by 22 April Twist Bioscience’s share price had declined 0.6% during the past month to $134.57. While Twist Bioscience’s share price was down from its January peak, it was still up 4.8% for the year to 22 April. It’s increased 308.3% in the past 12 months.


A stimulating exchange

On 14 April, Twist Bioscience announced a partnership with Pure Biologics [PUR.WSE] to accelerate the discovery of immuno-oncology (IO) antibody-based drugs. IO is an emerging field of cancer treatment that works by stimulating the immune system’s own response to fight the disease.

The partnership will allow Pure Biologics to access synthetic antibody phage display libraries. These are derived from sequences within the human body and are then optimised using AI and big data analytics.

The libraries that Pure Biologics will have access to are designed to match particular biological targets, to facilitate the formation of bispecific antibodies with the goal of discovering new IO antibody candidates.

In exchange, Twist Bioscience will receive annual payments for being able to access the technology as well as fees “for preclinical, clinical and commercial milestones for any antibodies resulting from the collaboration”, Genome Web reports. No other financial details were disclosed.

Filip Jelen, CEO of Pure Biologics, expects the partnership to accelerate its “discovery pipeline and build a base for research expansion in the future”.

Emily Leproust, CEO and co-founder of Twist Bioscience, said she was looking forward to “augmenting Pure Biologics’ IO pipeline with first-in-class bispecific antibodies identified and designed using our robust discovery and optimisation engine.

“Highly selective, potent bispecific antibodies that bind to multiple targets have the potential to change the way cancer is treated in the future,” Leproust added.

"Highly selective, potent bispecific antibodies that bind to multiple targets have the potential to change the way cancer is treated in the future" - Emily Leproust

Twist Bioscience’s recent partnership with Pure Biologics was one of many formed in the year so far to help Twist Bioscience continue to pioneer research into treatments for cancer, COVID-19 and other conditions. Others include matching with Watchmaker Genomics, Biotia Pharmaceuticals and AcornMed.

The company boosted its senior leadership team in February, promoting three employees to C-level roles and appointing Angela Bitting as senior vice president of corporate affairs. Leproust attributed the strengthening of its leadership team to Twist “growing at a significant rate, meeting and exceeding important milestones and building value”.


Twist, turns and the genomic revolution

One ETF that focuses on the nascent genome editing theme is the ARK Genomic Revolution ETF [ARKG]. The ETF focuses on the microscopic level, investing in companies involved in the so-called genomic revolution.

As of 23 April, Twist Bioscience was the fifth-largest holding in the fund with a 4.14% weighting. This put the stock just behind Pacific Biosciences [PACB], a California-based DNA sequencing firm that received a $900m investment from SoftBank Group [SFTBY] in February, and one spot ahead of COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer Novartis [NVS]. These stocks accounted for 4.41% and 3.99% of the fund’s holdings, respectively.

Pacific Bioscience’s share price had gained 17.5% in the year to date (through 22 April) and was up 846.6% over the past 12 months. Meanwhile, Novartis’s share price was down 2.9% in the same period, but was up 4% in the past 12 months.

The ARK Genomic Revolution ETF was down 5.1% for the year to date (through 22 April), but has climbed 129% over the past 12 months.

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