We’re inspired and heartened by the tremendous public health response to COVID-19, and recognize that a similar scale of effort is needed by the biotech community to find long-term solutions to this crisis. Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said today:
“We must get a drug and eventually vaccine. We can have treatments, antibody prophylaxis, point of care diagnostics for early detection by fall. That must be [our] focus. #COVID19 doesn’t go away. [The] [i]nitial wave will run course into summer but it’ll be back until our technology stops it.”
We’ve built our platform to enable partners across a wide range of applications to rapidly scale their R&D efforts, and we want to apply this technology today to the fight against the pandemic. To support the people building the treatments that will stop COVID-19 Ginkgo is now offering:
- $25M of no-cost foundry work towards projects that can use Ginkgo’s platform to accelerate development of point of care diagnostics, vaccines, or therapeutics. See below for details on how our technologies might be able to support these efforts.
- Connection to sources of funding from private and public sources. We are coordinating with people like Sam Altman and others on private funding efforts. If you are interested in funding COVID-19 work, we can connect you to vetted technical teams.
- Rapid sharing of R&D information as it is learned among the community of academics and companies working on solutions.
If you are currently a company or academic lab that is developing a diagnostic, drug, or vaccine and are interested in leveraging Ginkgo’s infrastructure at no cost please email us at [email protected].
Details on Relevant Ginkgo Capabilities:
Ginkgo has invested ~$400M over the last 5 years to build a 100,000 sqft automated facility that is used today to support partners like Roche and Bayer with a broad range of infrastructure for biotechnology R&D. We’ve listed some examples from our discussions with companies developing solutions to COVID-19 below, to help possible partners understand our scope. We will regularly update this list as we find additional areas of leverage we can provide to those working on COVID-19.
For the manufacturing of nucleic acid-based vaccines, we could:
- Provide process development capacity with our large bank of ambr250 fermenters for production of vaccine DNA
- Assist in developing E. coli or alternative strains for increased production of plasmid or vaccine DNA
- Rapidly discover and produce enzymes capable of improving downstream in vitro processing steps specific to the development of mRNA-based vaccines
- Use our high-throughput DNA synthesis capacity to rapidly synthesize and screen many designs for vaccine discovery and optimization
To support antibody-based therapeutics development, we could:
- Support lead optimization of promising candidate Abs, specifically using rapid DNA synthesis to generate 100s of different Ab designs and inserting these into CHO cells at a precise set of location(s) using cell lines with pre-engineered landing pads
- Screening via virus neutralization or (lack of) antibody-dependent enhancement of infectivity leveraging rapid & high throughput screening on the Berkeley Lights Beacon (an optical microfluidics screening platform that we have in-house)
To enable point of care diagnostics, we could:
- Rapidly discover enzymes capable of improving CRISPR/Cas-based nucleic acid diagnostics
- Use our protein engineering pipeline to further improve key parameters such as diagnostic specificity and selectivity, limit of detection, temperature and storage stability, and overall robustness
- Synthesize swap-in/swap-out guide RNA components for CRISPR/Cas-based devices, allowing rapid updating as new viruses need to be detected
- Scale protein expression to rapidly optimize production of the enzymes needed for device manufacture
To provide research tools, we could:
- Leverage our NGS platform to provide viral sequencing of ~10,000 samples per day. Environmental samples could be sequenced at our facility and we can partner with clinical labs to increase capacity for patient samples.
- Synthesize gene length fragments of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in a variety of expression formats and distribute via plasmid repositories to vetted and licensed entities.
More generally, we hope that our capacity for large-scale sequencing, synthesis, analytics, and cell engineering can support and accelerate efforts to develop new diagnostics, biologics, or vaccines for efforts such as those listed above and beyond. We’re looking to commit every part of our platform that can make a difference over the coming months. If you bring us an opportunity that’s not a fit for Ginkgo but can be accomplished by one of our technology partners, we’ll connect you.
We want to help connect great ideas in the community with the resources they need, whether that’s funding or access to technology at Ginkgo or elsewhere, or connections to others working on similar problems. If you have a project that needs support or are looking to contribute resources or expertise to the response and want to be connected to promising efforts, please email us at [email protected].