As an early pioneer in the high throughput synthesis and sequencing of DNA, Dr. Leproust is disrupting the process of gene synthesis to enable the exponential growth of synthetic biology applications in multiple fields including medicine, DNA data storage, agricultural biology and industrial chemicals. She has been named one of Foreign Policy’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers for fast-tracking the building blocks of life, and Fast Company named her one of the Most Creative People in Business for synthesizing DNA faster than ever. Dr. Leproust has published over 30 peer-reviewed papers – many on the applications of synthetic DNA – and is the author of numerous patents. Read her full bio.

Interview with Emily Leproust of Twist Bioscience

Q: NGS is enhancing patient care through improved diagnostic sensitivity and more precise therapeutic targeting. Prominent examples include cystic fibrosis and cancer. What other clinical areas NGS will most likely to change the standard-of-care in the near future?

A: Preventative medicine – using genetic data to identify traits that have the potential to cause harm in the future, which may be able to be mitigated through diet, exercise, preventative regimens

Patient stratification in clinical trials – selecting the right patients to be treated with the most effective therapeutics, faster

Rare diseases – identifying genetic differences has the potential to save lives – as exemplified by recent research conducted by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia using Twist Bioscience Exome Kit is able to identify genetic defects that are sometimes treatable with over the counter therapies.

Identification of outbreaks – such as Ebola, Zika, and Monkeypox. Using our PanViral panel together with Illumina technology, researchers from USAMRIID were able to identify Monkeypox as the viral outbreak in Nigeria and track its spread (published in The Lancet)

Q: In order to maximize the potential of NGS use in the clinic, what new genomics strategies need to be adapted?

A: Scalable and cost effective solutions need to be implemented to benefit individual and population level genomics.

Q: What areas of sequencing technologies need to be improved before new applications can be introduced to clinical use?

A: Sequencing technologies are really quite good.

Prior to the introduction of the Twist NGS Target Enrichment Kit, there was a need for better quality, faster target enrichment capabilities, which focuses on generating high-quality data at scale with costs that allow effective implementation

We are seeing more and more applications introduced into clinical use regularly, from companion diagnostics to transplantation screening

Q: What are the current challenges in the setup of large-scale NGS analysis workflows?

A: Currently, sequencing and analysis costs can be quite high for rare genetic differences, so setting up screening on a very large scale can be costly and remain very time consuming

By focusing on the exome only using the Twist Bioscience Kits, it is possible to focus the sequencing costs on the areas of interest, thereby reducing the overall costs of projects

Q: What are the obstacles to the widespread adoption of NGS in routine diagnostic testing?

A: Please see above

Q: Is there anything you would like to share with the PMWC audience?

A: We believe the NGS market is growing substantially and will play a pivotal role in the future of healthcare – from prevention to diagnosis to treatment and follow up.

We are pleased to share that our NGS target enrichment and library preparation tools bring to the market scalability and performance. By leveraging our DNA synthesis technology, this platform allows for flexibility while reducing the overall cost of NGS

Q: What need is Twist Bioscience addressing?

A: Founded in April 2013 to make higher-quality DNA faster and more cost effectively

We have a disruptive process for making DNA that leverages silicon to miniaturize the chemical reaction

This synthetic DNA is the basis of all of our products: genes, gene fragments, oligonucleotide pools, DNA libraries, and our target enrichment kits for next-generation sequencing

Market was ripe for disruption and we are the first company to bring a new technology

In the same space that other companies make one gene, we can make almost 10,000 in parallel by miniaturizing the reaction

The need for synthetic DNA is growing – just as the number of applications for DNA sequencing (or DNA “reading”) increased exponentially after the availability of affordable sequencing, the same is happening for “writing” DNA – also known as synthesizing DNA

Q: What are the products and/or services Twist Bioscience offers/develops to address this need? What makes Twist Bisocience unique?

A: Synthetic DNA is used by many different industries – from healthcare to industrial chemicals to agriculture.

We offer genes and gene fragments for healthcare, industrial chemicals, agricultural biotech; oligonucleotide pools for things like CRISPR research; DNA libraries for target identification and antibody development for pharma and biotech companies; NGS target enrichment kits that are used in diagnostic workflows to improve sequencing efficiency and effectiveness

Synthetic DNA can even be used to store digital data

Q: What is your role at Twist Bioscience and what excites you about your work?

A: CEO and co-founder

I am excited about the fact that we are truly enabling our customers to improve healthcare and the sustainability of the planet

Q: When thinking about Twist Bioscience and the domain Twist Bioscience is working in, what are some of the recent breakthroughs that are propelling the field forward and how will they impact healthcare?

A: Our genes and gene fragments are being used for research in multiple industries; specifically in healthcare, they are used for developing new therapeutics across a wide range of diseases, and are also used to identify mechanisms of action for specific genes or portions of genes

Our oligo pools are used for CRISPR research and development

Our NGS target enrichment tools: Article published in The Lancet demonstrating our Pan Viral panel could be used to efficiently identify an outbreak of Monkeypox

Our DNA libraries are allowing discovery of important antibody targets that may be used for a wide range of therapeutics

Another example would be the ability to make flavors, fragrances, chemicals without the need to begin with petrochemicals; this saves the natural species (rose plants for rose oil; vanilla plants for vanillin, etc)

Q: What are the short-term challenges that Twist Bioscience and its peers are facing?

A: We’ve been extremely successful and we are growing rapidly

Short term challenges are focused around hiring, as we face a competitive hiring environment

We have very good benefits packages for our employees

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with the PMWC audience?

A: We believe it is an exceptionally important time in the field of synthetic biology

We believe this is the century of biology and that the understanding of biology will fuel amazing developments to improve healthcare and the sustainability of the planet

We intend to continue to leverage the versatility of our platform to build a leadership position in other synthetic DNA-based product markets where we have a competitive advantage

We will expand our position as the provider of choice for high-quality, affordable synthetic genes and DNA to customers across multiple industries

We intend to become the leading supplier of NGS sample preparation products

We will conduct antibody therapeutic discovery and optimization for our current customers and future partners

Interview with Ken Bloom of Ambry Genetics

Q: Tell us more about your organization/company. What patient population are you serving and which services are you specializing in?

A: Ambry Genetics is a recognized leader in high quality complex genetic testing. We seek to find the genomic cause or contributors to rare diseases, abnormal phenotypes and hereditary disorders.

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Interview with Lee Pierce of Sirius Computer Solutions

Q: What is the state of big data and analytics in healthcare, and how to best use the reams of data available?

A: More than ever, Healthcare organizations are achieving measurable value through use of their data and analytics assets. There is more raw material available than ever to create value. This raw material is the data flowing from internal systems and applications and also from devices and systems external to healthcare organizations.

Read More

Interview with Anita Nelsen of PAREXEL

Q: There are various new, emerging technologies that bring us closer towards a cure for life-threatening disorders such as cancer, HIV, or Huntington’s disease. Prominent examples include the popular gene editing tool CRISPR or new and improved cell and gene therapies. By when can we expect these new technologies being part of routine clinical care?

A: Today’s emerging technologies are making the promise of individualized treatment a reality.

Read More

Interview with Ilan Kirsch of Adaptive Biotechnologies

Q: The Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded recently to James Allison and Tasuku Honjo for their work on unleashing the body’s immune system to attack cancer, a breakthrough that has led to an entirely new class of drugs and brought lasting remissions to many patients who had run out of options. The Nobel committee hailed their accomplishments as establishing “an entirely new principle for cancer therapy.” What is your first-hand experience the impact that those new drugs had on patients?

A: For decades cancer was viewed as solely a cell-autonomous condition.

Read More

BMS buys Celgene | Lilly buys Loxo Oncology – Does this Signal a Return to Strong Deal-Making Activities in 2019?

Bristol-Myers Squibb’s blockbuster $74B deal to buy Celgene creates an oncology powerhouse amid industrywide excitement about the rapidly evolving science and explosive growth of the sector. The agreement could signal a return to deal-making for the pharmaceutical industry in the $133B global oncology therapeutics market.

Read More

Interview with Gini Deshpande of NuMedii

Q: What need is NuMedii addressing?

A: NuMedii, has been pioneering the use of Big Data, artificial intelligence (AI) and systems biology since 2010 to accelerate the discovery of precision therapies to address high unmet medical needs. Artificial Intelligence approaches are a natural fit to harness Big Data as they provide a framework to ‘train’ computers to recognize patterns and sift through vast amounts of new and existing genomic

Read More

Interview with Minnie Sarwal of UCSF

Q: Genomic medicine is entering more hospitals and bringing with it non-invasive technology that can be used to better target and treat diseases. What are some key milestones that contributed to this trend?

A: Completion of complete sequence data from the human genome project, and the advances in proteomic, microRNA and epigenetic assays added a layer of pathway biology to the understanding of human diseases.

Read More

Interview with Shidong Jia of Predicine

Q: Once sequencing has been validated as a clinical solution via trusted workflows, and coinciding with the technological developments driving costs lower, we can expect accelerated human genome profiling for clinical Dx. How soon, do you think, will we see accelerated growth and what can we expect?

A: We will see accelerated human genome profiling for clinical Dx in 2019 and the coming years as more biomarker-based cancer drugs are gaining approval.

Read More

Interview with Iya Khalil of GNS Healthcare

Q: Artificial intelligence (AI) techniques have sent vast waves across healthcare, even fueling an active discussion of whether AI doctors will eventually replace human physicians in the future. Do you believe that human physicians will be replaced by machines in the foreseeable future? What are your thoughts?

A: I think that there’s a lot of speculation and uncertainty around AI, but I don’t foresee a time when we won’t need physicians.

Read More

Interview with Ilya Michael Rachman of Immix Biopharma Inc.

Q: The Nobel Price in Medicine was awarded recently to James Allison and Tasuku for their work on unleashing the body’s immune system to attack cancer, a breakthrough that has led to an entirely new class of drugs and brought lasting remissions to many patients who had run out of options. The Nobel committee hailed their accomplishments as establishing “an entirely new principle for cancer therapy.” Besides CAR T-cell therapy what do you think next generation immunotherapies will look like to successfully combat cancer?

A: The next generation of immunotherapies will build on the insights discovered by immunologists like James Allison and Tasuku Honjo and extend them to modify the body’s response to tumors.

Read More

Join me to Kick off PMWC Silicon Valley in the Santa Clara Convention Center, Focusing on Every Element of Precision Medicine

My team worked in collaboration with Bill Dalton, Kim Blackwell, Atul Butte / India Hook Barnard, Nancy Davidson and Sharon Terry to create a program that touches every component of precision medicine while bringing together all of its key stakeholders. Leading participating institutions including Stanford Health Care, UCSF, Duke Health, Duke University, John Hopkins University, University of Michigan and more will share their learnings and experiences and their successes and challenges, as they make precision medicine the new standard of care for all.

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Interview with Dominic Eisinger of Myriad RBM

Q: The Nobel Price in Medicine was awarded recently to James Allison and Tasuku for their work on unleashing the body’s immune system to attack cancer, a breakthrough that has led to an entirely new class of drugs and brought lasting remissions to many patients who had run out of options. The Nobel committee hailed their accomplishments as establishing “an entirely new principle for cancer therapy.” Besides CAR T-cell therapy what do you think next generation immunotherapies will look like to successfully combat cancer?

A: Next generation immunotherapies include CAR-Ts, TCRs, cancer vaccines, ADCs, bi-specific antibodies, and checkpoint inhibitors.

Read More

2018 Year in Review Milestones: Stakeholder Partnerships Carving Precision Medicine’s Future

2018 has clearly been a year when significant opportunities intersected with strong partnerships to yield advancements. In particular, the clinical advancements that were realized are a testimony to stakeholders working together to deliver on promises affecting major aspects of precision medicine. 2018 has clearly been a year when significant opportunities intersected with strong partnerships to yield advancements.

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Interview with Lisa Alderson of Genome Medical

Q: Tell us a little bit about Genome Medical. What market need is Genome Medical addressing and how?

A: Genome Medical is a telegenomics company that is bridging the gap between available, genetic expertise and the clinical application of genomics.

Read More

Interview with Nasir Bhanpuri of Virta Health

Q: What need is Virta Health addressing?

A: Virta Health delivers an evidence-based treatment to safely and sustainably reverse type 2 diabetes without the use of medications or surgery. In the U.S. alone, type 2 diabetes and prediabetes affects 115 million people, and the economic burden is well-over $300 billion and growing.

Read More
Johns Hopkins
University Of Michigan

The Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC), in its 17th installment, will take place in the Santa Clara Convention Center (Silicon Valley) on January 21-24, 2020. The program will traverse innovative technologies, thriving initiatives, and clinical case studies that enable the translation of precision medicine into direct improvements in health care. Conference attendees will have an opportunity to learn first-hand about the latest developments and advancements in precision medicine and cutting-edge new strategies and solutions that are changing how patients are treated.

See 2019 Agenda highlights:

  • Five tracks will showcase sessions on the latest advancements in precision medicine which include, but are not limited to:
    • AI & Data Science Showcase
    • Clinical & Research Tools Showcase
    • Clinical Dx Showcase
    • Creating Clinical Value with Liquid Biopsy ctDNA, etc.
    • Digital Health/Health and Wellness
    • Digital Phenotyping
    • Diversity in Precision Medicine
    • Drug Development (PPPs)
    • Early Days of Life Sequencing
    • Emerging Technologies in PM
    • Emerging Therapeutic Showcase
    • FDA Efforts to Accelerate PM
    • Gene Editing
    • Genomic Profiling Showcase
    • Immunotherapy Sessions & Showcase
    • Implementation into Health Care Delivery
    • Large Scale Bio-data Resources to Support Drug Development (PPPs)
    • Microbial Profiling Showcase
    • Microbiome
    • Neoantigens
    • Next-Gen. Workforce of PM
    • Non-Clinical Services Showcase
    • Pharmacogenomics
    • Point-of Care Dx Platform
    • Precision Public Health
    • Rare Disease Diagnosis
    • Resilience
    • Robust Clinical Decision Support Tools
    • Wellness and Aging Showcase

See 2019 Agenda highlights:

    • Five tracks will showcase sessions on the latest advancements in precision medicine which include, but are not limited to:
      • AI & Data Science Showcase
      • Clinical & Research Tools Showcase
      • Clinical Dx Showcase
      • Creating Clinical Value with Liquid Biopsy ctDNA, etc.
      • Digital Health/Health and Wellness
      • Digital Phenotyping
      • Diversity in Precision Medicine
      • Drug Development (PPPs)
      • Early Days of Life Sequencing
      • Emerging Technologies in PM
      • Emerging Therapeutic Showcase
      • FDA Efforts to Accelerate PM
      • Gene Editing / CRISPR
      • Genomic Profiling Showcase
      • Immunotherapy Sessions & Showcase
      • Implementation into Health Care Delivery
      • Large Scale Bio-data Resources to Support Drug Development (PPPs)
      • Microbial Profiling Showcase
      • Microbiome
      • Neoantigens
      • Next-Gen. Workforce of PM
      • Non-Clinical Services Showcase
      • Pharmacogenomics
      • Point-of Care Dx Platform
      • Precision Public Health
      • Rare Disease Diagnosis
      • Resilience
      • Robust Clinical Decision Support Tools
      • Wellness and Aging Showcase
  • Luminary and Pioneer Awards, honoring individuals who contributed, and continue to contribute, to the field of Precision Medicine
  • 2000+ multidisciplinary attendees, from across the entire spectrum of healthcare, representing different types of companies, technologies, and medical centers with leadership roles in precision medicine
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