Taking Ginkgo Public on NYSE:DNA

Today we are filing our S-4 with the Securities and Exchange Commission. We’d like to share with you excerpts from the letter that we are including in that document, which recognizes the history of this field and the fact that we are standing on the shoulders of giants.

Biology is special. Many of the most important things in our lives come from biology. Our food. Our oxygen. Most of our medicines. Our pets. Our families. 

Our children are born with wonder about the living world of animals and plants, but we encourage them to grow out of their dinosaur-loving phase and to focus on our human-built world of technology instead. Perhaps it is time to change that. 

We have previously called biology “the most powerful manufacturing technology on the planet,” but it is incorrect to call biology a technology. Technologies are invented by humans. We didn’t invent biology—biology invented us. If you compare biology to our human-engineered technologies, our technologies come up laughably short. Biology grows, building itself with no need for factories. Biology repairs itself, healing wounds and illness. If you look at it under a microscope, its atomic structures put our most precise construction techniques, like semiconductor manufacturing, to shame. To top it off, biological materials are perfectly recyclable. And most importantly, biology self-replicates—it is alive. 

To be fair, humans have only spent about ten thousand years developing technologies. Biology has had a 4 billion year head-start on us. Humans, however, have recently invented two very important technologies—reading and writing DNA. 

In 1952, Rosalind Franklin took the first X-ray picture of DNA. Her image showed that DNA was a double helix, a twisted ladder of paired “letters” that made a molecular code. The code was made up of A’s, T’s, C’s, and G’s instead of 0’s and 1’s like computer code, but it was digital, and its structure implied that someday we would be able to read and write it.

In 1976, Genentech brought DNA writing to the world by building on the academic work of its founder Herbert Boyer, who “cut-and-pasted” the first gene from one species to another in 1973. Genentech launched the first biotech therapeutic, human insulin for diabetics, and then vertically integrated to become a pharmaceutical company. Today, more than a third of new therapeutic drugs are made from biotechnology. 

The tools for DNA writing have greatly expanded since 1976—CRISPR allows targeted DNA edits, DNA printing allows long pieces of DNA to be written from scratch—and every day, the cost and scale of our ability to write DNA improves. The cost of reading DNA has fallen more than a million-fold since the completion of the Human Genome Project twenty years ago. The era of Moore’s Law is coming to a close, but biology’s exponentials are just beginning.

At Ginkgo we are unifying these tools into a horizontal platform for programming cells across organisms. We make this platform available to customers who want to program cells for applications in food, medicine, cosmetics, agriculture, materials, or any other market. We believe that biology can impact all industries that produce physical goods, because biology makes stuff, and it evolves to solve new problems. Today the world faces many problems, and we hope that biology can help us meet those challenges.

Earlier this week we announced that we’ll be going public via a business combination with Soaring Eagle Acquisition Corp. We’re thrilled to be partnering with the Soaring Eagle team and Dr. Arie Belldegrun, who is going to provide real strategic leadership to Ginkgo, particularly as we expand more deeply into therapeutics applications, including cell and gene therapies. We are excited that so many people are beginning to see the potential of biology and are working with us to help bring our vision for cell programming to life.

One of the fun parts about going public is picking a ticker. We thought about a lot of options, from the traditional ($GKGO), to the “sounds great at first, but wait…” ($CELL), to the provocative ($GMO). One of our favorite options ($TREX) was, sadly, taken. But one option stood out from the pack, allowing us to pay tribute to the real visionaries in our field: Rosalind Franklin and Herbert Boyer, and embrace the heart of what we do. This ticker has a long history and once belonged to Genentech, who introduced the first biotech therapeutic: human insulin. We are honored and humbled to be able to continue the legacy of Genentech, who held the NYSE:DNA ticker until their acquisition by Roche. While Soaring Eagle (Nasdaq:SRNG) will still be trading as a proxy for Ginkgo for the next few months until the transaction closes, upon the closing of the business combination, Ginkgo will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker DNA.

We’re excited to bring this story forward with you and also wanted to share our new website syntheticbiology.com to help spark your imagination and highlight stories about synthetic biology being applied for good, making the world more open, equitable, and sustainable. We hope you’ll join us in asking “what if you could grow anything?” as we embark on this new adventure.

Ginkgo’s mission is to make biology easier to engineer. We were the kids dreaming about dinosaurs and learning how to program computers. Today we dream that kids in the future will be learning how to program cells.

There will be dragons,

Austin, Barry, Jason, Reshma, and Tom

Why Ginkgo Cares about Genetic Privacy

Our products were built with genetic privacy as a core ethical and design principle. We’d like to explain a bit more about our company, how we do our testing, and why we don’t collect human genetic information.

There are many reasons why people should care about their genetic privacy and who might have access to the sequences of their DNA. We take all privacy concerns very seriously, and we developed our pooled test with privacy as an essential design principle.

Our test is a public health tool designed for communities. This means the only data we’re interested in collecting or analyzing is data that will enable communities to formulate the best public health response to COVID-19. Specifically, we’re only interested in the viral RNA in the pooled samples.

At its core, our pooled test is designed to be an easy way for groups of people to swab their nostrils and receive a result. Each nasal swab is also bound to capture some biological material from each person, including small bits of their DNA. However, we have no interest—financial, scientific, or otherwise—in the human DNA that’s also present in these samples. Still, we feel it is necessary to safeguard people’s privacy through several layers of protection.

Layers of Privacy Protection

Our first layer of privacy protection begins at the school and on our website. The names of the individuals in a pooled sample cannot be entered into our website by schools. This means we never see information about which person’s swab is in which tube; we do not know this information. The participants in each tube are anonymous to us. Our HIPAA-compliant website also provides a layer of protection at the school by minimizing access to results to only people authorized by each school.

We also protect privacy in our labs. When pooled samples are sent to our network of labs, we use one of two methods to identify whether or not the virus is present in the sample. Some labs use a technique called PCR, which gives us a simple “yes” or “no” answer to whether the genes of the virus—and thus, the virus—are present in a sample. Our lab and others use PCR combined with a technique known as sequencing, which also gives us a “yes” or “no” answer. However, the sequencing process can also read and record the sequence of viral genes. This gives us more detail about the virus if it’s present in a sample, which can be useful for detecting new variants. You can read our “ELI5” explainer post on how our test works for more information.

As part of our lab testing process, we do look for a particular human gene sequence. But we only do this as a quality control measure to ensure that samples were collected correctly and that our test worked as intended. This is a common method used in viral tests to ensure quality, and we selected our quality control sequence with privacy in mind. The sequence is nearly identical in every person and can’t be used to identify individuals. The gene sequence isn’t used or recorded for any purpose other than to provide a test result.

We also do not store the sequence of this gene. Simply put: we have no interest in it nor do we have your permission to store or use this information. Other than the quality control gene sequence, we never sequence, analyze, or use the human DNA that is present in the pooled sample.

Additionally, we do not store samples for longer than what is typical for quality standards. In our lab at Ginkgo, most of the time the sample is completely used up during the testing process. If there are leftover samples, we only retain those samples for 7-14 days and only do so for the purpose of quality checks or re-running tests if necessary. Thus, we do not (and cannot) perform tests on samples for research or any other purpose.

Our test also allows us to understand how the virus is changing and gives us the ability to track new variants. We can do this by sequencing the viral RNA when it is found in a pooled sample. Comparing viral RNA sequences is how public health organizations like the CDC understand what public health measures are needed to end this pandemic. To assist this effort, we may sequence the viral RNA that is found in a pooled sample. This genetic information cannot be connected to an individual.

Everybody’s Health is Connected

Many companies have benefited from collecting personal information from individuals and exploiting that data. We started Concentric with the goal of empowering communities and enabling public health because everybody’s health is connected. We are focused on making sure that our platform is used responsibly and with care for everyone it impacts. When it comes to Concentric, we’re not interested—even remotely—in the use of human DNA, human RNA, or other human biomaterials gathered through testing.


DNA: The molecule that’s used by living things for long-term storage of genetic information. (back)

Gene: “Gene” is actually a very tricky word to define! Nowadays, it usually means the sequence that instructs a cell to make a certain product. (back)

Genetic privacy: The idea that personal genetic information must be protected from unauthorized access or use. (back)

PCR (polymerase chain reaction): A technique that makes very many copies of a piece of DNA. (back)

RNA: Like DNA, RNA can provide instructions for making certain products. But it can also do more, like help cells carry out chemical reactions. (back)

Sequence: A series of specific molecules of DNA or RNA that make up a longer strand. (back)

Sequencing: Recording the specific molecules that make up a strand of DNA or RNA. (back)


Expanding Ginkgo’s Platform for Biosecurity and Pandemic Responsiveness

We’re thrilled to announce that Ginkgo Bioworks was recently approved for a loan of up to $1.1B from the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) to expand our biosecurity and pandemic response platform at Ginkgo. Biotechnological platforms like Ginkgo’s can be repurposed in a biological emergency, and we have been honored to be able to contribute our technology to efforts combating the pandemic.

Back in March, we opened our platform up to do $25M of free work with companies and researchers working on the response to COVID-19. Many great partnerships came out of that initiative, including our work with Moderna to help optimize their vaccine manufacturing process, and our joint efforts with Totient to hunt for virus-neutralizing antibodies for COVID-19. We synthesized expression vectors for key viral proteins to support academic researchers and deposited them in Addgene for free distribution and used our NGS platform to do whole genome sequencing to support the Utah Department of Health in using genomics to support epidemiology.

We worked with the NIH RADx program on developing new methods for testing, invested to expand Access Bio’s New Jersey-based antigen test manufacturing facility to support more widespread rapid testing, and launched our end-to-end testing service, Concentric by Ginkgo, to do testing in non-traditional settings like schools and workplaces. We worked with the non-profit Immune Observatory to provide free base-line testing to staff at MA K-12 schools this fall. Our goal is to make testing costs low enough for weekly testing of people without symptoms, using methods like pooled testing in settings such as K-12 classrooms. Though vaccines are thankfully on the horizon, testing remains a vital tool for understanding and managing the spread of COVID-19.

Even as we pour our efforts into emerging from this crisis, we need to consider how the infrastructure and tools we are building now can grow to prevent future pandemics and keep us healthy and safe in the long-term. With support from the DFC, we will expand our platform to be part of a lasting biosecurity capability for the US. Simply put, your email inbox shouldn’t have more virus protection than you do.

Webinar: University Leaders on Testing

As universities slowly begin to reopen, institutions face difficult decisions about when and how to bring students back to campus. But even in this uncharted territory, university leaders are coming up with clever solutions to protect students, staff, and the surrounding community. In partnership with the leading news outlet for colleges and universities, The Chronicle of Higher Education, we recently had the opportunity to hear from several senior administrators at universities from across the country about the COVID-19 strategies that have allowed students to return to in-person learning. This webinar featured leaders from Vassar College, Fayetteville State University, Kenyon College, University of Vermont, and University of South Carolina. Read on for the highlights and key lessons from the conversation, or watch the replay here.

Test promptly and frequently

Throughout the conversation, it was clear from all the panelists that providing COVID-19 testing services to students, faculty, and staff is key to successfully reopening and bringing students back on campus. Offering prompt testing to everyone who needs it is a critical part of ensuring that campuses can not only reopen, but stay open. These university leaders have deployed a mix of PCR-based testing and rapid antigen testing on their campuses, allowing them to catch individual cases – and support positive cases with quarantine and recovery measures – before they turn into full-blown outbreaks that would force the campus to close again.

While testing at a regular cadence is the core of most reopening strategies, that doesn’t mean that a single plan works for every community. By tailoring their approach to the unique needs of their own communities, university leaders are able to find what works best for them. Vassar College’s President Elizabeth Bradley recommended a paper titled, “Reopening Colleges During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic—One Size Does Not Fit All” to help determine the best path forward for your institution based on its individual characteristics, such as size and geographical location. With its robust testing program, Fayetteville State University was able to bring its case count down significantly, according to the school’s Director of Student Health, Vinette Gordon.

Interestingly, some campuses like Kenyon College and University of South Carolina have also leveraged wastewater testing as another form of assurance in their COVID-19 strategy. Testing wastewater for the SARS-CoV-2 virus provides valuable information on the health of the campus community and can help catch cases early on. For example, Kenyon College President, Sean Decatur says they noticed an elevated reading in their wastewater testing results—an early warning sign of a potential outbreak. They were able to step up testing efforts in response, allowing them to catch a new positive case that they might have otherwise missed without that early warning.

Partner and pool to lower the cost

Making testing accessible for every member of the campus community is a top concern for universities across the country. But scaling up testing to cover an entire community is no easy task. Many campuses are struggling with a lack of funding and resources to begin testing at the scale required to reopen and stay open.

The panelists discussed several ways they’ve been able to bring testing to their campuses despite budget constraints. Largely, partnerships with local health departments, neighboring universities, and state and federal bodies have been critical in securing the tests and financing required for large-scale, on-campus testing. The panelists were excited about the prospect of low-cost, rapid antigen tests becoming more widely available and their potential to bring down overhead as they look to the spring semester.

Another promising strategy that aims to bring down the cost of testing is pooling. Pooling allows you to collect samples from several people in a community and screen them with a single test—maximizing that test’s reach. By testing multiple people at once, you can save on the time and cost of running multiple, individual tests. And if a pooled test comes back positive, you know to send that specific cohort back for individual testing. Pooling has the potential to dramatically reduce the resources spent on testing and get results to more people, faster.

“Students must be partners in a school’s COVID-19 response plan in order for it to be effective.”

Collaborate with students and the community

Another theme that emerged throughout the discussion was the importance of collaboration on and off campus. The ultimate takeaway? Students must be partners in a school’s COVID-19 response plan in order for it to be effective.

University of South Carolina’s Executive Director of Student Health Services and the Healthy Carolina Wellness Program, Debbie Beck, recommended getting the student body government involved to make sure their voices are heard in developing the plan from day one. Vassar College professionally trained students from its EMS and paramedic departments to help with contact tracing. They also shared that, of course, you can never underestimate the power of swag with a college community. What these academic leaders have seen is that students want to be on campus and are willing to comply with testing and other safety measures, like distancing and masking, to return to their everyday lives – activating the student body plays an invaluable role in ensuring participation.

The panelists also emphasized the importance of engaging their stakeholders: adjacent communities, businesses, families, and individuals who regularly visit or otherwise interact with their campus. Communicating and working with the local community to ensure their concerns are heard and met is critical. In an effort to better collaborate with their local community in Burlington, University of Vermont President, Suresh V. Garimella says they developed a website where community members could voice their concerns. In an effort to help boost the local economy, Vassar College came up with creative ways for businesses to sell food and beverages on campus in a way that safeguards the health of both students and the broader community.

These five universities have been outstanding examples of how to effectively craft and implement on-campus COVID-19 testing programs, and for testing in the U.S. more broadly. Our testing service, Concentric by Ginkgo, is committed to providing a range of testing options designed to fit each community’s unique needs. If you’re interested in bringing PCR or antigen testing to your campus, contact us today at www.concentricbyginkgo.com.


Concentric by Ginkgo: COVID-19 testing at scale

To learn more about how Concentric by Ginkgo can support you and your organization, please contact us.

Today we’re thrilled to announce the launch of Concentric by Ginkgo. Concentric offers COVID-19 testing at scale to support schools and businesses in their reopening strategies and provides end-to-end, on-site testing services for organizations that seek to make testing available to their communities.

Everybody’s health is connected. Many layers of public health response are necessary to predict, understand, control, and eventually end a pandemic. Testing is a major pillar of such a response and increased testing capacity is critical for enabling informed public health decisions and contact tracing programs. While national capacity has grown significantly in recent weeks, there is still a large, unmet need for more testing, and experts believe that millions of tests per day are needed for the United States to contain and slow the spread of COVID-19.

We’re developing large-scale testing capacity for Concentric by Ginkgo with next generation sequencing (NGS), which allows us to read, process and analyze many DNA and RNA samples in parallel on one machine. You can read more about the differences in testing methods in our white paper. We’re also working toward obtaining an Emergency Use Authorization for a COVID-19 test for our CLIA certified laboratory with the goal of scaling testing further. At the present time, to serve current reopening needs of businesses and educational organizations, Concentric by Ginkgo will work with other CLIA-certified labs offering RT-PCR based tests to make on-site testing programs available immediately.

We chose the name Concentric to highlight the interconnected communities we exist in, the different layers of proximity each of us have, and the ripples of impact that our choices send out into the world. As we grow Ginkgo, we’re excited to expand our foundries to enable more cell programming projects across many industries, now alongside Concentric.

Read more on Concentric’s efforts in our CNBC article and interview. To learn more about partnering with Concentric by Ginkgo to support your organization’s COVID-19 testing strategy, visit concentricbyginkgo.com to contact us.

Black Lives Matter

Black lives matter.

Ginkgo has and will always stand for equality. We stand with the Black community against racism, systemic injustice, and police brutality.

At Ginkgo, we work with the most powerful technology on earth—biology—to solve some of the greatest challenges we all face. But science and technology are political, and deeply entrenched in systems of racism and oppression. Embedded in every technology are the biases and perspectives of the people who built it—from the history of color film to the present debates over facial recognition.

Because our technology is biology it affects everyone—our bodies, our food, our environment, our medicine. And none of these can be separated from the injustices of our society and the inequalities in public health, food systems, and the impacts of pollution and climate change. We must ensure that both the risks and the benefits of synthetic biology are justly distributed.

A first step is making sure that the people building the technology reflect the diversity of those who will be impacted by it. We’ve long sought to be transparent about our efforts towards diversity within the synthetic biology community, and have committed to increasing the diversity on our team. But our efforts have been far from enough. Today, only 2% of our team identifies as Black or African American. This has to change.

Simply putting more efforts into hiring a diverse team and creating inclusive environments, as important as that is, is also not enough. We must also examine the technologies we develop, urgently, openly, and inclusive of the ecosystems we are part of—our communities and our natural environment. We must incorporate the diverse voices and visions of all those who play a role in the future of biology.

So as we continue to build our platform, and especially as we build diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for COVID-19, which is disproportionately impacting communities of color, we are committing $1M towards building a more equitable company, technology, and society. This will take many forms, from programs for recruiting, training, and inclusion within Ginkgo, to supporting and sponsoring organizations that promote the inclusion of marginalized communities in biotechnology.

We plan on sharing more about our efforts in the weeks to come. We will continue to reflect on this today during #ShutDownSTEM #strike4blacklives and every day until there is justice, knowing our response to systemic racism cannot be tied to a singular action or announcement.

We call upon our peers in the biology industry to do the same and to our community to hold us accountable for meeting these goals.

Supporting The Bioeconomy Research and Development Act of 2020

Now more than ever, we see the importance of biology: from responding to public health crises to building more resilient supply chains, biology defines what is possible. That’s why we’re so excited to see the Senate take the time to consider biology in the bipartisan Bioeconomy Research and Development Act of 2020, which is set to be marked up by the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday, May 20th, 2020. Ginkgo enthusiastically supports this legislation, led by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL).

The legislation elevates the importance of a cohesive and coordinated national strategy to guide and expand the field of synthetic biology through the implementation of a National Engineering Biology Research and Development Initiative. This Initiative will facilitate coordination between many U.S. agencies, including DOE, DoD, NIH, NSF, NASA, FDA, USDA, and EPA, to expand synthetic biology research, increase bioeconomy workforce training, and encourage commercialization of biological innovations.

This Initiative will help meet a critical need for federal government action that I recently described in testimony to the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Science. To ensure America continues to be a leader in synthetic biology, the U.S. government must strategically reinvest in its bioeconomy. The U.S. has done this before with semiconductors, space technology, and ARPANET.

Video from the Securing U.S. Leadership in the Bioeconomy Senate hearing. My testimony begins at 41:27
Synthetic biology will be the world’s next industrial revolution. As proven by the COVID-19 pandemic, our ability to quickly develop new medicines and vaccines using synthetic biology, as well as to manufacture a wide range of essential materials and products in a sustainable and resilient way will define the technology of the 21st century the way that digital technologies defined the 20th. It is essential that the federal government has a cohesive, thoughtful strategy and makes robust investments in research and development programs that underpin the advancement of synthetic biology. The field was born out of U.S. Federal government research investments, and by advancing this legislation, Congress can help ensure American innovators continue to lead in this space.

Supporting COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine Development with Moderna

There is nothing more critical right now than doing what we can to accelerate potential vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments for COVID-19. We’ve rapidly shifted our entire platform towards COVID-19 response, committing $25M of free access to our infrastructure to projects that can support R&D across a range of applications.

I’m thrilled to announce today that as part of that offer, we will be supporting Moderna with process optimization for key raw materials used in the manufacturing of its mRNA vaccines, including mRNA-1273, Moderna’s vaccine candidate against COVID-19, the first to enter clinical trials. With access to our high throughput automated tools for biological engineering, we hope that we can help Moderna accelerate its plans to improve the efficiency of its upstream manufacturing process. You can read more about Moderna’s vaccine efforts here.

We’re eager to support many more efforts in COVID-19, through DNA synthesis, full genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 for epidemiological tracking, scaling of diagnostics, antibody lead optimization, and antigen design for serological testing, vaccine, or therapeutic development, among others. If you have a project that you think we can help accelerate with our platform, please reach out to [email protected].

$25M of Free Platform Access for COVID-19 Projects

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].


Improving Living Medicines with Synlogic

At Ginkgo, we believe that the power to program DNA will transform all industries, making technology more adaptive, efficient, and renewable. Engineering living cells has of course already revolutionized the pharma industry, from insulin-producing bacteria in the 1980s all the way to CAR-T cells today.

A few weeks ago we announced our acquisition of the Warp Drive genome mining platform and a partnership with Roche, using synthetic biology to discover novel small molecule medicines made by bacteria. Today I’m thrilled to announce an expansion of our partnership with Synlogic, who is ushering in a new paradigm for therapeutics, where the bacteria aren’t just making the medicine, they are the medicine.

Synlogic is developing an incredible platform that enables them to program probiotic bacteria to treat many different complex diseases using the power of biology. Living cells have the ability to do what chemicals can’t: they can sense and respond, they can deliver enzymes and small molecules directly where they’re needed, and they can consume and break down potentially toxic molecules before they cause any harmful effects. Today, Synlogic’s pipeline includes strains of E. coli that live in the gut and consume molecules like phenylalanine or ammonia in diseases where patients’ bodies are unable to do this on their own, leading to toxicity and neurological damage if left untreated. They also are working on engineered bacteria that can be injected directly into tumors, sending up signal flares that alert the immune system to attack the cancer cells.

As organism designers, we’re so excited by Synlogic’s vision and we’ve been so inspired by the talent and passion of the team and their ability to program cells to fight so many different diseases. Their expertise is a perfect complement to the work we do programming cells in our foundries and we’ve been collaborating successfully with Synlogic since late 2017. We’ve been thrilled by the promising early results for our first collaborative project that shows how our two companies can work together to accelerate the development of a new living medicine.

Synlogic had developed an early prototype strain for the treatment of a rare metabolic disease that was promising but had room for improvement. In our foundry, we prototyped and screened over 1000 versions of each of the three enzymes in the designed pathway, zeroing in on the sequences with the highest activity in combination. Because of the scale of our foundries to build and test so many strains, we could help Synlogic’s scientists choose the best strains with significantly improved function both in vitro and in vivo. We’ll be sharing all those details and the results from nonhuman primate studies at the SEED conference in a couple weeks.

Based off of the success of our proof of concept partnership and the enormous potential that Synlogic has in therapeutics, today we are excited to announce an expansion of our collaboration to drive new innovation in living medicines through the combined strength of Synlogic’s expertise in drug design and development and Ginkgo’s foundries for biological engineering. We are making a premium equity investment of $80M and beginning a range of new projects, expanding Synlogic’s pipeline and helping accelerate more promising candidates to the clinic.

We see living medicines as the source of many future drugs. Recombinant DNA technology first made it possible to manufacture protein-based drugs nearly forty years ago, and today a large percentage of promising new drugs are biologics. We can only imagine what might be possible in the age of living programmable medicines.

As with many of our partnerships, we’ve also worked with artist Karen Ingram to illustrate the technology and highlight the beauty of living medicines. As you take a closer look, you’ll notice several of important elements that describe the work of Synlogic and Ginkgo’s collaboration: bacteria sensing and targeting various compounds, biofilm formation, and the gut lining in the background.