Ginkgo Bioworks Acquires AAV Capsid Technology and Forms Partnership for Next-Gen CAR-T Cell Therapies

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Ginkgo Bioworks has acquired StrideBio's AAV capsid discovery and engineering platform and has formed a partnership with WARF for development of next-gen cell therapies.

In April 2023, Ginkgo Bioworks announced two major moves that bolster its R&D and drug discovery services. The first move is the acquisition of the adeno-associated virus (AAV) capsid discovery and engineering platform assets of US-based gene therapy company, StrideBio. The second move is the formation of a partnership with the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) to discover and develop next-generation chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) cell therapies.

According to an April 5, 2023 company press release, Ginkgo will incorporate the capabilities and intellectual property (IP) it gains from the StrideBio acquisition into its end-to-end AAV gene therapy development platform. This combination will allow for the use of new tools that can effectively target many different tissue types and potentially improve the safety profile of future gene therapies. Ginkgo is also receiving StrideBio's existing library of capsids, which includes advanced candidates that have been extensively tested in large animal models and which are now available for licensing and broader partnership.

Also under the agreement, Ginkgo will gain the IP and data for StrideBio's lead preclinical asset for arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy , a rare genetic heart disease. Ginkgo plans to sell or outlicense this preclinical asset to a commercial partner. The transaction includes a secondary close that is scheduled upon transfer of certain additional in-license agreements to Ginkgo. Financial details of this deal were not disclosed.

"The StrideBio team has built a deep pipeline of AAV capsids and libraries to address critical challenges facing clinical gene therapy with a focus on reducing vector dose and improving safety by limiting off-target biodistribution," said Aravind Asokan, co-founder of StrideBio, in the press release.

"Combining Ginkgo's engineering and discovery capabilities in enzymes, regulatory elements, and capsids enables a holistic approach to designing an AAV gene therapy, so that we can support our partners across the entire process of designing the viral vector," said Narendra Maheshri, head of Mammalian Engineering at Ginkgo, in the press release. "We are thrilled to integrate the STRIVE platform and know-how into our foundry to augment our capabilities in capsid engineering, and we look forward to continuing to expand our existing end-to-end capabilities in AAV discovery and manufacturing."

Next-gen cell therapy discovery and development


In its collaboration with WARF, which supports research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Ginkgo will offer its proprietary high-throughput combinatorial CAR discovery and screening platform to researchers at WARF. The aim of the collaboration is to discover next-generation GD2 CAR-T cell therapies that have improved persistence, proliferation, fitness, and other functional properties. The goal of developing these next-gen cell therapies is to improve the efficacy of treatment for solid tumors.

According to an April 13, 2023 press release, Ginkgo will collaborate with University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers Krishanu Saha, professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and principal investigator (PI), and Christian Capitini, co-PI. Saha's lab is focused on developing next-generation cell engineering techniques to advance human therapeutics, while Capitini is a pediatric oncologist who has extensive clinical experience with CAR-T cell therapies. Capitini also served as a site PI for the clinical trial that led to the first FDA approval of a CAR-T cell therapy.

Under this collaboration, Ginkgo will design and characterize novel intracellular signaling domains using its pooled CAR screening platform. These signaling domains are intended to prevent the exhaustion of T cells in the GD2 solid tumor context, according to Ginkgo in the press release. Any novel designs will be validated via high throughput in-vitro screens and in in-vivo murine models. Ginkgo and WARF also plan to collaborate on developing a pooled in-vivo screening platform to further advance the discovery of novel CARs.

"Ginkgo's high throughput screening method has proven successful in enabling massively parallel testing of CAR designs and has already led to the discovery of new intracellular domains (ICD) combinations," said Saha in the press release. "By partnering with Ginkgo, we aim to unlock the potential to transform patient outcomes and reimagine the future of solid tumor cancer treatment."

"This collaboration represents a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate the potential value of pooled CAR screening approaches directly in the context of devastating diseases [such as] early childhood cancers," said Narendra Maheshri, head of Mammalian Engineering at Ginkgo, in the release. "It's especially exciting to work with pioneers [such as] Professors Saha and Capitini, who have pushed R&D boundaries in the laboratory and whose approach is thoroughly grounded in the translation of their findings for clinical impact."

Source: Ginkgo Bioworks for StrideBio acquisition and WARF collaboration