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T cell engineering: How the BioXp™ system boosts productivity and decreases discovery time

December 23, 2020  |  Codex DNA

At a recent Oxford Global NextGen Omics UK congress, our own Kirsty Maclean gave a presentation about how the BioXp™ system is powering advances in cell engineering. While she started with a high-level view of how synthetic biology applies to therapeutics in general, her talk focused on T cell engineering. If you don’t have time to watch the presentation, we’ve highlighted some of the key takeaways here.

T cell therapies have made important contributions to immunotherapy and precision medicine; CAR-T cell therapies are perhaps the best-known example. T cell receptors — or TCRs — are also showing real promise for these applications. Best of all, they allow for a broader range of targets than CAR-T cell treatments.

Engineering approaches will be essential for discovering TCRs. Scientists must seek the right binding affinity to tumor antigens, screen for safety, and navigate the complexities of an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment to find potentially useful TCRs. Synthetic biology tools can streamline the engineering process to accelerate discovery and improve TCR success.

That’s where the BioXp™ system comes in, Maclean noted in her presentation. “Our latest model — the BioXp™ 3250 system — generates up to 32 DNA fragments, clones, or libraries in a single overnight run with a fully automated workflow. The result is a productivity increase of as much as 50-fold, due to faster cycle times.”

Maclean shared two examples of how independent scientists used the BioXp™ system to improve their cell engineering processes. In Nature Biology, scientists from GigaMune described a method they developed to identify clinically relevant T cells designed to express key receptors; this adoptive cell therapy process relied on the BioXp™ system. They were even able to identify ultra-rare TCRs reactive to viral antigens for potential translation to therapeutic use.

In a separate example, scientists addressed bottlenecks in their TCR discovery workflow by deploying the BioXp™ system. In addition to decreasing discovery time, they successfully identified TCRs with immunotherapy potential for the specific genetic elements of a patient’s tumor.

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