Ginkgo Receives Grant to Develop Innovative Live Cell Delivery Platform of Antibody Therapeutics for Treating HIV and Malaria

We’re thrilled to receive a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation!

Under this grant, we will work to develop a live cell therapeutic that can produce antibodies to fight human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and/or malaria directly in the body.

Protein therapeutics have transformed the standard of care for many diseases — the best known example being insulin for diabetes — and have helped to extend lives across the world, thanks to revolutionizing treatments of diseases such as anemia, cancers, and certain genetic disorders. Yet access to these therapeutics remains a challenge, especially in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), because of complex manufacturing processes and degradation during storage and delivery of such therapeutics. Developing a new therapeutic delivery modality for patients could increase accessibility and lower cost of treatment.

We will focus on creating a prototype engineered cell line that can express antibodies for the treatment of HIV and/or malaria via an implantable device.

Globally, approximately 39 million people live with HIV, which attacks the body’s immune system and weakens its ability to fight infection. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that nearly half the world’s population is at risk of malaria transmission, with 96% of malaria-caused deaths in 2020 taking place in the WHO Africa Region. The engineered cell line would be designed to act as a “cell factory” capable of delivering protein therapeutics to the patient for up to a year, or longer. This prototype cell line could potentially lead to protein therapeutic delivery systems that function as long-term and cost-effective treatments for these diseases.

Ginkgo, with support from the foundation, plans to use its expertise in mammalian cell engineering to engineer highly synthetic cell lines that have both high productivity and extended longevity.

We will use our expertise in genomics and systems biology to predict the genomic components underlying these complex cellular phenotypes. We will then utilize our expertise in genome engineering, including a fully automated clonal cell line generation workflow, to combine these features in a mammalian chassis. This engineered cell line will be combined with an implant device for continuous delivery of the therapeutic antibodies. If successful, the eventual product could create a novel delivery platform for antibody-based therapies in communities where access to such drugs is challenging.

Protein-based drugs were some of the earliest applications of cell programming for medicine half a century ago. We’re honored to be receiving support from the Gates Foundation to reimagine how these medicines are made and delivered so that we can open up access to these critical therapies. We look forward to leveraging our learnings from this project to ensure the success of future programs with our partners.

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