Biogen and Ginkgo Bioworks in $120-Million Deal to Develop Novel Gene Therapy Manufacturing Platform

BioPharm International Editors

Biogen and Ginkgo Bioworks have partnered to develop a next-generation AAV production platform to accelerate Biogen’s gene therapy drug development efforts.

Biogen and Ginkgo Bioworks, a US-based bioengineering company, have entered into a gene therapy collaboration worth up to $120 million, under which they will develop a next-generation manufacturing platform to product recombinant adeno-associated virus (AAV)-based vectors, the companies stated in a May 21, 2021 press release.

Under the agreement, Biogen will receive access to Ginkgo’s proprietary cell programming platform and capabilities, and Ginkgo will receive an upfront payment of $5 million as well as eligibility for milestone payments up to an additional $115 million should the collaboration programs achieve certain research, developmental, and commercial milestones. Ginkgo will use its bioengineering facilities and resources to enhance the AAV production titers of Biogen’s gene therapy manufacturing processes.

Currently, manufacturing of recombinant AAV-based vectors is time-consuming and expensive, making it difficult to develop therapies for diseases with high dose needs and with large patient populations. Ginkgo seeks to solve these challenges by applying its mammalian cell-programming platform and aims to improve the efficiency of AAV-producing plasmid vectors and cell lines, which could accelerate Biogen’s development of novel gene therapies, Ginkgo said in the company press release.

“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,” said Alphonse Galdes, PhD, head of Pharmaceutical Operations and Technology at Biogen, in the press release. “They share our goal of ensuring approved therapies are not delayed by manufacturing constraints and are available to patients worldwide.”

“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,” said Jason Kelly, CEO of Ginkgo Bioworks, in the press release. “Synthetic biology is leveraging the power of living cells to develop the next generation of therapeutics, everything from CAR-T [chimeric antigen receptor T-cell] to CRISPR [clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats] and gene therapies, which we believe will have a material impact on the lives of many.”

Source: Biogen