Collaborations, Mergers & Acquisitions
Gene Therapy
Viral/Non-Viral Vectors

Biogen and Ginkgo Bioworks Collaboration Aims to Overcome Challenges in the Development of Viral Vectors for Gene Therapy

26 May 2021

A new collaboration between Ginkgo Bioworks and Biogen (both MA, USA) has been announced that aims to develop a novel, next-generation gene therapy manufacturing platform, potentially overcoming key challenges associated with the development of viral vectors for gene therapy. 

Biogen – a biotechnology company focussed on pioneering innovative therapies in neuroscience – announced the collaboration, claiming the two companies will pool expertise to accelerate Biogen’s work to deliver novel gene therapies to patients around the world.  

Ginkgo Bioworks, a platform for cell programming, hopes to apply synthetic biology expertise to the collaborative effort in order to facilitate the potential expansion of therapeutic utility, overcoming key challenges with the development of viral vectors for gene therapy.  

“Synthetic biology is leveraging the power of living cells to develop the next generation of therapeutics, everything from CAR-T, to CRISPR and gene therapies, which we believe will have a material impact on the lives of many,” Jason Kelly, CEO of Ginkgo Bioworks explained.

Key challenges highlighted in the latest news release include time-consuming and expensive manufacturing processes, which can inhibit the mass production of therapies with higher patient populations and dose requirements.  

The collaboration hopes to overcome these challenges through the application of the Ginkgo Bioworks mammalian cell programming platform, improving the efficiency of AAV-producing plasmid vectors and cell lines, and thus accelerating the development of gene therapies already underway at Biogen.

“We believe that Ginkgo’s unique combination of cell programming expertise, proprietary tools and knowledge of biological systems make them an ideal collaboration partner to explore a large number of design ideas with the goal of optimizing constructs,” added Alphonse Galdes, Head of Pharmaceutical Operations and Technology at Biogen. 

“They share our goal of ensuring approved therapies are not delayed by manufacturing constraints and are available to patients worldwide,” Galdes continued.  

We are excited to collaborate with Biogen as they aim to develop treatments that may potentially slow, halt or cure neurological and neurodegenerative diseases and seek to enhance the industry standard for AAV manufacturing,” added Jason Kelly, CEO of Ginkgo Bioworks.

Gingko Bioworks is reported to receive a US$5 million upfront payment and is eligible for a further US$115 million in potential research, development and commercial milestones. 

The news follows an announcement from Biogen in March earlier this year, describing plans from Biogen to build a state-of-the-art gene therapy manufacturing facility in North Carolina, which is expected to be operational from 2023. 

Source: Biogen press release