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End of year roundup

End of year roundup

The end of a great year; it's the people that make the difference

For the third year running, OXGENE has more than doubled its revenue, signing a series of strategic license and service delivery agreements to cement its position as a leading life sciences solutions provider. But OXGENE’s success isn’t all about its technologies. It’s about its people. So here’s what they have to say about OXGENE’s success this year:

Business Development Manager, Jason King, who joined the company recently says, “Despite 18 years of international gene therapy development experience, I was blown away by the technologies being developed at OXGENE. It’s the reason I joined the company. I’m convinced that OXGENE’s technologies will be instrumental in moving the gene therapy industry towards the levels of viral vector production needed for late-stage clinical trials and subsequent commercial development. Success is highly motivating!”

A strategic approach

In support of this ambition, OXGENE has been very deliberate in its approach to licensing deals this year, working with both CMOs and therapeutics manufacturers to encourage industry wide adoption of our leading AAV and lentiviral transient gene therapy production platforms, prior to introducing new technologies for stable gene therapy manufacture this year.

Senior Group Leader, Qian Liu says, “It’s been extremely satisfying to see the cell lines, plasmids and processes our teams have worked so hard to develop demonstrating their worth in customer evaluations and being licensed for use across the industry, and I’m so proud of our technical support team for making our customers feel valued and confident in dealing with us and our materials. I can’t wait to see the new technologies we’re working on launch in the coming months.”

Several new service delivery agreements over the course of the year have also cemented OXGENE’s position as a market leader for high throughput CRISPR based engineering. We’ve not only extended our partnership with Abcam plc to deliver over 1000 CRISR knock out cell lines in a number of host cell backgrounds, but also signed several service agreements for the generation of complex disease models with pharmaceutical companies including Artios Pharma, who specialise in the development of breakthrough cancer treatments targeting the DNA Damage Response pathway.

Pela Derizioti, Group Leader of OXGENE’s Automated Gene Editing group says, “I’m incredibly proud of our team here, and I don’t just mean my lab. I mean the way the whole company has pulled together to make our automated gene editing platform work. There’s a real sense of everyone working together to achieve a common goal. And it’s paid off. Last month, we generated double the number of validated KO cell lines we could produce last year. We’re constantly improving.”

Senior Project Manager, Ben Granville, adds: “It’s a privilege to work with so many brilliant scientists, who come from such a variety of different technical backgrounds, at OXGENE. Working with them to support and facilitate the cutting-edge work they’re so passionate about makes this an extremely exciting place to be.”

A global reach

OXGENE can now also claim a truly global presence, having signed both service and licensing deals with multiple companies in the USA, most recently Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, and across Asia and Europe. We also have a number of additional technology evaluations underway, and we expect these will lead to further licensing deals in the new financial year.

A strong emphasis on R&D

“Einstein supposedly said “If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called research, would it?”. This is the beauty of science, and I feel fortunate to be part of the OXGENE R&D team, doing something that hasn’t been done before, pushing the boundaries and manipulating biology. This approach is supported and even encouraged at OXGENE.” Group Leader Nathan Robertson, continues: “I love that we’re given the freedom to think outside the box, to make mistakes and to explore biological systems. OXGENE is truly at the cutting edge of research, and it’s an exciting place to work because we’re rewriting the technical handbook.”

A large part of OXGENE’s strength lies in its R&D pipeline. We are a company that thrives on constant innovation, constant discovery and step change improvement, which is a big part of what keeps life interesting for our scientists.

Jakub Krakowiak, Group Leader of OXGENE’s Process development team adds, “Every quarter we work on something new and different. There is constant progress with the technologies and processes we develop, which brings a great sense of achievement. Last year, we launched our first commercial process development projects and got our new 10L bioreactors and associated processes to work. These were big achievements for the team.”

This focus on innovation and progress means that we’re looking forward to launching several innovative and potentially game changing technologies in the first half of next year. These include our novel self-labelling integral membrane (SLIM) mammalian display platform to enable the discovery of antibodies against previously intractable membrane proteins, as well as transformative new solutions for scalable, stable gene therapy manufacture. We’ve successfully developed stable packaging and producer cell lines for lentiviral based gene therapies, and we’re using our novel Tetracycline-Enabled Repressible Adenovirus (TERA) system as the basis for a stable AAV production platform to significantly improve yields and AAV quality.

Joining the fight against COVID-19

While the spread of coronavirus meant that the financial year didn’t end in quite the way we’d expected, it did give us the opportunity to use some of our new technologies in support of diagnostic, vaccine and therapeutic development programmes against COVID-19. For example, we’re using our SLIM mammalian display platform to identify neutralising antibodies – those that disrupt viral function – against the COVID-19 Spike protein, and employing our TERA system to develop our own vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 proteins, in case other vaccine strategies prove unsuccessful. We’re also using this same technology as part of a collaboration with The Native Antigen Company to help scale up COVID-19 antigen production for diagnostic tests and vaccine development.

Overall, it’s characteristic of OXGENE and the attitudes of everyone who works here that we might be celebrating the end of a successful financial year, but nobody’s resting on their laurels. Before we’ve even finished dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on our summary of last year’s activity, we’re already thinking about what’s coming next.

David Brighty, newly recruited Senior Group Leader of the Viral Design and Discovery team summarises: “I feel like I’ve joined OXGENE at a really exciting time. There are some incredibly interesting and innovative technologies in the pipeline and I’m looking forward to developing these further, and getting them ready to launch in the next few months.”

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