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 Shannon J. McCall of Duke University

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: After several years of the promise of precision medicine and abundant clinical trial work, the recent FDA approval of solid-tumor-agnostic therapies dependent on molecular biomarkers has catapulted genomic/precision medicine into the standard-of-care for late stage cancer.

Read More

Interview with Tao Chen of Paragon Genomics, Inc.

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: For whole genome sequencing to be a reliable clinical tool, it will largely depend on the cost of sequencing the genome and our ability to interpret the data.

Read More

Call for Action: The Time is Now for Patient Data Interoperability

The use of new technologies can provide breakthrough benefits for both patients and providers. However, with increased sharing comes increased risks to the security and privacy of patient data. Currently data is being accumulated across many organizations and initiatives but is often either siloed or simply not accessible. Researchers suggest that patient education tactics can help quell security concerns during patient data sharing.

Read More

Interview with Andrew Magis of Arivale

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. How soon, do you think, will we see what kind of accelerated growth?

A: I think the acceleration has already begun. Large sequencing projects such as NHLBI Trans-omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) and NIH All of Us are sequencing 150,000 and 1 million individuals, respectively.

Read More

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.

Read More

Interview with Michael Phelps of UCLA

Q: You invented the PET scanner that changed the lives of millions of patients with cancer, brain and heart diseases. What are the potential benefits to patients of combining PET with radio-ablation technologies?

A: PET provides imaging assays of the biology of disease in many diseases today.

Read More

Interview with Daniela Ushizima of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

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 really hope that human physicians will not be replaced by machines in the foreseeable future.

Read More

Interview with Amy Compton-Phillips of Providence St. Joseph Health

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? What technological advancements are driving this change?

A: Genomic medicine is poised to move quickly from the research realm into integration with healthcare delivery, but there is always a time lapse between technology advances and what we do with those advances.

Read More

Interview with James Taylor of Precision NanoSystems

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: Patients are already receiving treatment using novel gene and cell therapies.

Read More

Interview with Julie Eggington of Center for Genomic Interpretation

Q: Together with Robert Burton you founded the Center for Genomic Interpretation (CGI), a non-profit organization. Can you tell us more about CGI and the mission behind it?

A: CGI’s mission is to drive quality in clinical genetics and genomics. CGI works primarily with laboratories, health insurance payers, clinicians, and patients/consumers.

Read More

Interview with Deven McGraw of Ciitizen

Q: Patient healthcare data aggregation and analysis is seen as both the panacea for tremendous breakthroughs in precision medicine and as one of its biggest challenges. Are both true and how so?

A:Yes, both are true. Achieving breakthroughs in precision medicine will require a lot of data – and yet it is often difficult for researchers to amass all of the data needed to advance precision medicine discoveries.

Read More

Breaking News: CMS Takes Actions to Lower Prescription Drug and Other Healthcare Costs – Seema Verma Speaking @PMWC19

The cost of healthcare has been rising at an annual rate of 7% be it company-sponsored health insurance, public insurance such as Medicare and Medicaid, or private insurance. As such, healthcare was top of mind for many individuals this 2018. In the November midterm election many items related to healthcare such as Medicaid expansion, provider pay and indirect effects on the Affordable Care Act could be found on the ballot.

Read More

Did You Catch All 6 of These Big Genomic Medicine Headlines in Recent Weeks?

Genomic sequencing, the driver of modern genomic medicine has come a long way in a short time, and its potential to continue driving innovations in precision medicine is enormous. PMWC 2019 Silicon Valley Jan. 20-23 in the Santa Clara Convention Center will focus on topics that are in the headlines and on everyone’s minds, in NGS and in precision medicine.

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Interview with Christopher Hopkins of Nemametrix

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: We should all be working towards integrating these technologies into routine patient care as quickly as possible, because genomic medicine has the capacity to make profound impacts now.

Read More

Interview with Kristine Ashcraft of YouScript

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: It’s certainly hard to predict, but our goal is to see precision medicine tools in the hands of most providers in the next five years.

Read More
Johns Hopkins
University Of Michigan

The Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC), in its 16th installment, will take place in the Santa Clara Convention Center (Silicon Valley) on January 20-23, 2019. 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.

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

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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