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Twist Bioscience Teases Products for Liquid Biopsy Market, Biopharma Collaborations

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This story has been updated to include information about Twist Bioscience's filing for a stock offering worth up to $200 million. 

NEW YORK – Twist Bioscience is looking to deliver new products based off its synthetic DNA manufacturing platform as well as new biopharma partnerships over the rest of fiscal year 2020.

The San Francisco-based firm will be expanding its product line in several directions, CEO and Cofounder Emily Leproust said on a conference call on Wednesday following the release of the firm's fiscal fourth quarter and full-year 2019 financial results.

"We believe the future liquid biopsy market is one such area with tremendous potential for growth both as an industry in and of itself and for Twist, specifically," Leproust said. "Oncology as a whole is a burgeoning area of research for improved diagnostics and patient stratification, and our near-term line extensions will be focused on addressing the growing market needs."

The firm also expects to sign between five and 10 additional biopharma collaborations this fiscal year, CFO Jim Thorburn said. Many of these will be based on the antibody discovery platform of its biopharma division. Also, earlier Wednesday, the firm had announced an expanded collaboration with Pandion Therapeutics on antibody optimization.

Leproust said the firm would look to increase its commercial team as well as seek international distribution agreements. Officials also discussed the effects of existing partnerships on its business, including the firm's comarketing agreement with BGI subsidiary MGI, and the growth of its NGS product revenues.

The firm is also planning a stock offering worth up to $200 million, according to a document filed Nov. 6 with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The firm is looking to build on positive fiscal fourth quarter and full year 2019 results, reporting revenues of $15.7 million for the three months ended Sept. 30 and revenues of $54.4 million for the year, beating average analyst estimates on both counts. It was a "solid close" to the year, Cowen Analyst Doug Schenkel wrote in a research note. EvercoreISI's Luke Sergott similarly said the firm's outlook was "solid." Twist provided full year revenue guidance for fiscal year 2020 in the range of $80 million to $84 million.

Some of that growth was fueled by a sevenfold year-over-year increase in NGS products revenues, which totaled $21 million. Leproust seemed to indicate that the new products targeting the liquid biopsy market would fall within the NGS product category. "We'll also pursue additional applications of our tech within the SNP microarray market, including [direct-to-consumer genomics] and ag-bio," she said.

Leproust said the firm had also made "incredible inroads" into the synthetic biology market but noted that it has only about 10 percent market share. "We're only scratching the surface of what's possible. As we look ahead into 2020, we plan to introduce product line extensions that we believe will allow us to meet the needs of large companies that require larger quantities of DNA," she said. "In addition, we will introduce a product that will allow our gene fragments to be widely adopted by the long tail of the market."

In addition to distribution partnerships, Twist has plans to collaborate with pharma companies through its biopharma divisions' antibody discovery platform, similar to its expanded collaboration with Pandion Therapeutics. Twist will apply its antibody optimization platform to additional Pandion antibodies, following the successful completion of an initial project. Financial and other details of the expanded collaboration were not disclosed.

"Some of our projected collaborations will focus on complementary tech to drive drug discovery. Others will be milestone- and royalty-driven agreements," often seen in the biotech industry, Leproust said. "We expect the initial collaborations will be smaller pharmaceutical and biotech companies looking for novel drug discovery and will grow in value and size over time as we add third-party validation." Thorburn later added that upfront payments of some of these deals had been projected into the revenue guidance.

Twist officials also discussed the firm's comarketing deal with MGI, a BGI subsidiary. Leproust said that the firm is planning to "finish products" in China to "expedite time from order to delivery," using DNA manufactured in the US. She added the deal would be an "important catalyst for next year's growth."

Asked during the Q&A portion of the call if the firm had been in talks to partner with Illumina, Leproust said there was "no discussion I can comment publicly on," and added that the firm is "always looking to enhance our reach through distributors and partnerships."

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