Next-Gen Cell Therapy built on Next-Gen Informatics from Day 1

BY Iris Fung
August 17, 2021
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Outpace Bio is reimagining cell function through protein design to tackle incurable diseases. Their world-class scientific team is creating new cell therapies that intervene in complex biology in ways that small molecules and biologics cannot. The Outpace platform combines custom-designed biological functions with cellular control modalities that program the right response at the right time and place, enabling mechanism-driven solutions that are tailor-made to dramatically improve efficacy and safety.

Outpace Bio, who recently announced a Series A round of funding, was originally created as a spin out of Lyell Immunopharma. This strong relationship granted Outpace valuable expertise and experience – and conviction in Benchling as critical foundational infrastructure. Many members of the Outpace team first encountered Benchling at Lyell and realized the impact of having a reliable data management system to help drive research. Dr. Scott Boyken, Outpace CSO, said,  “As we spun out into Outpace, we wanted to keep momentum and hit the ground running on Day 1, and the Benchling team helped us to do that, ensuring a smooth transition.”

Why did Outpace decide to digitalize their R&D from Day 1? The Outpace team held a belief that implementing a data management system from the start was a vital catalyst towards success. “Benchling is our ground truth for documenting our data, designed constructs, and protocols. Having everything organized and readily searchable and accessible is essential for us to rapidly iterate,” said Jen Running Deer, Outpace’s Benchling Admin and Syn Bio Foundry Functional Lead.

From the very first meeting between Outpace and Benchling, the Benchling team was ready to support in every way necessary to ensure Outpace would have all infrastructure in place to hit the ground running on launch day. To do so, Benchling put together a cross-functional team of customer support, implementation managers, and backend engineers to pull off a carefully orchestrated implementation in 33 days.

Since implementation, research at Outpace has moved quickly because scientists can plan and record their experiments all within the Benchling environment. Leah Tait, a Senior Research Associate on the Immunology team, says, “Benchling’s entity naming and tracking allow me to follow a construct from a plasmid prep to a finished lentivirus product with a simple and easy-to-use tracking scheme. I’m able to complete more transductions in high-throughput format, without any fear of lentivirus mix-ups, and it’s easy to present data to my team and have everyone immediately be up-to-speed on what I’m testing.”

Now that Outpace has implemented Benchling as the foundation of their data management, they are taking advantage of Benchling’s advanced functionalities to optimize their research even further. For example, they use the API to automate data connection to other systems critical to their workflow, removing the need for manual data transfer. “The Benchling API is a powerful tool for building and configuring custom applications that utilize Benchling’s database. Using this functionality, we built a custom cloning tool that enables high-throughput query of our Registry and bulk upload/registration of designed sequences,” says Dr. Andrew Ng, Biocontrol Functional Lead.

The recent announcement of their $30M Series A has solidified Outpace’s plan for exciting growth. Initial efforts, focused on creating improved anti-cancer T-cell therapies, are also laying the groundwork for Outpace’s platform to solve similar problems across the cell and gene therapy fields. The technologies they are developing are highly generalizable and can be brought to many different biological problems in many cell types. Outpace is poised to have a formidable impact as they work to make cells the future of medicine.

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