Synlogic, Ginkgo expand microbial discovery pact, throwing $80M investment into the mix
For Ginkgo Bioworks, teaming up with Synlogic on a pilot discovery project late 2017 marked its foray into harnessing the therapeutic ability of its cell programming platform. Having since leaped into a new antibiotics effort with Roche, Ginkgo is anting up $80 million to go deeper with Synlogic.
The two companies, both based in the Cambridge/Boston hub, are unveiling a new collaboration in which Ginkgo will help optimize the microbial strains that Synlogic — a pioneer in reengineering non-pathogenic bacteria into medicines — has identified as viable drug candidates.
Ginkgo is investing roughly $80 million for a 20%-plus stake in Synlogic $SYBX — an approach that CEO Jason Kelly said he likes to take with category defining companies. His other holdings include a joint venture with the agriculture group at Bayer and the food company Motif Ingredients.
Meanwhile, Synlogic is committing $30 million in service fees over five years.
Gaining access to Ginkgo’s industrial scale operations and “massively parallel screening” makes the process of identifying drug candidates 10 times faster and allows Synlogic’s 85-person team to focus on the biology and translational research, CEO Aoife Brennan tells me.
Their initial program has helped improve and expedite the development of a treatment for maple syrup urine disease, a rare genetic disorder that can lead to seizures, coma and death. Altogether, nine projects have been identified for the new collaboration.