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Ginkgo Bioworks & Pfizer Collaborate to Discover RNA-Based Drug Candidates

Written by : Nikita Saha

September 29, 2023

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Ginkgo will receive an initial payment and will be eligible to receive research fees, along with development and commercial milestone payments, with a combined aggregate total of $331 million across three programs. 

US-based biotech company Ginkgo Bioworks has entered into a partnership with multinational pharmaceutical and biotech giant Pfizer to discover RNA-based drug candidates. 

Under this partnership, Pfizer will harness Ginkgo's exclusive RNA technology to advance the discovery and development of novel RNA molecules across priority research areas. 

Additionally, Ginkgo's RNA technology combines a high-throughput screening process for assessing the performance of RNA constructs, coupled with a comprehensive multi-parameter design framework. This combined approach is employed to pinpoint natural and synthetic elements optimal for a particular application. 

Moreover, Ginkgo aims to apply these capabilities with the goal of achieving efficient production, circularisation, improved stability, and enhanced translation of each RNA construct.

Further, Ginkgo will receive an initial payment and will be eligible to receive research fees, along with development and commercial milestone payments, with a combined aggregate total of $331 million across three programs. Moreover, Ginkgo is also entitled to gain potential downstream value through royalties on sales.

Sharing his views, Will Somers, head, biomedicine design, Pfizer said, "RNA therapeutics are proving to be an important platform to advance the world of scientific innovation, and with progress in synthetic biology we have the potential to create new RNA treatments that may benefit patients worldwide.'

RNA therapeutics, which encompass the encoding of proteins capable of treating or potentially curing diseases, introduce a promising and innovative dimension to the field of medicine. This approach holds the potential for extensive applications. 

Jason Kelly, CEO and cofounder of Ginkgo Bioworks, said, "Billions of patients around the world have already benefited from advances in RNA-based technologies. We're thrilled to be able to help enable the discovery and development of novel drugs using this powerful modality by applying our platform technologies, which are designed to program RNA for maximum therapeutic effect."

Founded in 2009, Ginkgo Bioworks is USA's leading horizontal platform for cell programming, providing flexible, end-to-end services that solve challenges for organisations across diverse markets. The company aims to make biology easier to engineer and through its platform, it is helping customers across a broad range of industries.

While headquartered in New York City, Pifizer's aim is to deliver breakthroughs that change patients' lives. It researches, develops, manufactures, and sells healthcare products worldwide. 

Just days back, the global pharma giant AstraZeneca's rare disease unit Alexion signed a purchase and licence agreement for a rare disease programme portfolio from Pfizer for $1 billion. 

The deal was said to offer resources to expand AstraZeneca's genomic medicine capabilities and help it develop genetic therapies that are safer and more effective.

In the year 2022, Pfizer recorded an annual revenue of approximately $77 billion and a net income of about $21 billion.


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