70 jobs at risk as TwistDX’s American owners move Cambridge operations to San Diego

PUBLISHED: 22:02 12 July 2018 | UPDATED: 22:09 12 July 2018

TwistDX staff at work in labs at Coldhams Lane, Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

TwistDX staff at work in labs at Coldhams Lane, Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

Iliffe Media Ltd

Company was moving its staff into new Coldhams Lane HQ when shock decision was made

The TwistDX site in Coldhams LaneThe TwistDX site in Coldhams Lane

TwistDX’s American owners have shocked staff by announcing the closure of the Cambridge operation and its move to San Diego.

The decision came at a time when the company was switching from Cambridge Science Park into new, expanded premises in Coldhams Lane. It it thought that the move puts more than 70 jobs at risk.

A spokeman for Abbott, the US giant that owns TwistDX, told the Cambridge Independent: “As part of its business, TwistDx evaluated its operations and strategic direction in order to align its operations with commercial needs.

“As a result, TwistDx has decided to consolidate its operations in one location based in San Diego, California, and will be closing the Cambridge locations by the end of the year. We are supporting employees during this transition with severance and outplacement assistance.”

TwistDX's TwistAmp Liquid ExoRTTwistDX's TwistAmp Liquid ExoRT

The company’s cutting-edge technology can detect the presence of biowarfare agents, infectious diseases and pathogens in minutes. It is also used in food testing, agriculture, and by pharmaceutical companies to screen for cancer drugs.

In a statement following the decision, TwistDX said: “Following an evaluation of the overall business it has been decided that instead of moving our operations from U181 to Coldhams Lane, we will move TwistDx R&D and operations from the current Cambridge locations to a San Diego facility.

“This relocation will consolidate R&D and operations for similar technologies, with the intention of establishing a true centre of excellence. We are planning production closure at U181 on the 31st August 2018, with the physical move of operations and R&D occurring thereafter. In addition, as part of the relocation of TwistDx operations, certain previously offered products will be discontinued.”

TwistDX’s patented technology uses enzymes to help ‘amplify’ specific DNA or RNA in a sample.

Known as RPA – or Recombinase Polymerase Amplification – it is effective even with just a few copies of the target present. The reaction progresses rapidly, cloning it until it reaches detectable levels, typically within three to 10 minutes.

The technology, an alternative to PCR techniques, helped the company win the Scientists’ Choice Awards 2018, organised by SelectScience, for a liquid form of the product.

The company was founded by chief executive officer Dr Niall Armes and chief scientific officer Dr Olaf Piepenburg. The company was previously owned by Alere, which was acquired by Abbott.

TwistDX previously had sites at Babraham Research Campus and The Officers’ Mess in Duxford.

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How TwistDX helps to detect biowarfare agents and infectious diseases in minutes

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