COVID-19 News

MIT Lincoln Labs is first recipient of Ginkgo Bioworks COVID-19 support

Boston-based $4.2 billion synthetic biology powerhouse Ginkgo Bioworks is giving $25 million worth of resources in their $400 million R&D facility to public and private teams working to cure, prevent and treat the novel coronavirus. MIT Lincoln Laboratory, which researches and develops technology for national security, will be the first recipient of Ginkgo’s access fund to battle Covid-19.

The access fund resources on offer include:
* $25M of no-cost foundry work towards projects that can use Ginkgo’s platform to accelerate development of point of care diagnostics, vaccines, or therapeutics. See below for details on how our technologies might be able to support these efforts.
* Connection to sources of funding from private and public sources. We are coordinating with people like Sam Altman and others on private funding efforts. If you are interested in funding COVID-19 work, we can connect you to vetted technical teams.
* Rapid sharing of R&D information as it is learned among the community of academics and companies working on solutions.

Ginkgo has the capacity to support nucleic acid-based vaccines, antibody-based therapeutic development, diagnostics and research projects for Covid-19, according to the company's announcement launching the new fund.

Resources to support the manufacturing of nucleic acid-based vaccines include:
* Provide process development capacity with our large bank of ambr250 fermenters for production of vaccine DNA
* Assist in developing E. coli or alternative strains for increased production of plasmid or vaccine DNA
* Rapidly discover and produce enzymes capable of improving downstream in vitro processing steps specific to the development of mRNA-based vaccines
* Use our high-throughput DNA synthesis capacity to rapidly synthesize and screen many designs for vaccine discovery and optimization

Resources to support antibody-based therapeutics development:
* Support lead optimization of promising candidate Abs, specifically using rapid DNA synthesis to generate 100s of different Ab designs and inserting these into CHO cells at a precise set of location(s) using cell lines with pre-engineered landing pads
* Screening via virus neutralization or (lack of) antibody-dependent enhancement of infectivity leveraging rapid & high throughput screening on the Berkeley Lights Beacon (an optical microfluidics screening platform that we have in-house)

Resources to support point of care diagnostics:
* Rapidly discover enzymes capable of improving CRISPR/Cas-based nucleic acid diagnostics
* Use our protein engineering pipeline to further improve key parameters such as diagnostic specificity and selectivity, limit of detection, temperature and storage stability, and overall robustness
* Synthesize swap-in/swap-out guide RNA components for CRISPR/Cas-based devices, allowing rapid updating as new viruses need to be detected
* Scale protein expression to rapidly optimize production of the enzymes needed for device manufacture

Resources to support research:
* Leverage our NGS platform to provide viral sequencing of ~10,000 samples per day. Environmental samples could be sequenced at our facility and we can partner with clinical labs to increase capacity for patient samples.
* Synthesize gene length fragments of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in a variety of expression formats and distribute via plasmid repositories to vetted and licensed entities.

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