Teaming up to make better antibody therapeutics for COVID-19

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many groups across academia, biotech, and pharma are working hard to develop antibody therapeutics against SARS-CoV-2. Antibodies from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 may be effective in the treatment of critically ill patients, and many groups are seeking plasma donations to help those in need. In the long term, however, different approaches are needed to make effective antibody treatments available on a much larger scale.

Precisely engineered antibodies make up some of our most effective medicines. New antibodies can be based on those identified in convalescent patients, by reusing related antibodies (e.g., those effective against SARS), by screening antibody libraries, or by using computational methods to design new antibodies. As researchers discover and design new antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, many need help to rapidly produce and test these antibodies in preclinical studies. As part of our broader effort against COVID-19, we’re joining our friends at Berkeley Lights in their Global Emerging Pathogen Antibody Discovery Consortium to support the rapid development of promising candidate antibodies into useful treatments.

The consortium brings together many groups that are working to develop assays using the Berkeley Lights Beacon platform to quickly scale up the studies needed to advance new therapeutic antibodies against COVID-19 or any future emerging diseases. As a consortium member and in partnership with organizations that are designing new antibodies, Ginkgo will be using our automated high-throughput tools to reduce the preclinical development time for novel antibodies, through:

  • Synthesis of large numbers of antibody genes;
  • Expression of large numbers of antibodies in mammalian cells;
  • High-throughput screening of those antibodies for antigen binding as well as critical functional properties including virus neutralization, antibody-dependent enhancement of infectivity, and cross-reactivity with blood proteins; and
  • Optimization of lead antibodies for better stability, solubility, decreased  immunogenicity, and reduced cross-reactivity.

We have been so inspired by how the biotech community has come together so quickly in response to COVID-19, and we’re thrilled to be part of this consortium bringing together the people and tools to help accelerate a next generation of therapeutics. As with many aspects of Ginkgo’s COVID-19 response, this antibody-related work was a capability that we were developing that is now being put on an accelerated timeline.

If you’re working to discover new antibodies or other therapeutics targeting COVID-19 and would like to collaborate, please reach out to us at covid-response@ginkgobioworks.com.