Ginkgo Bioworks acquires circular RNA biotech Circularis

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Gingko Bioworks Rna cell and gene therapies Cell therapy Gene therapy

Ginkgo Bioworks is acquiring California biotech Circularis to strengthen its capabilities in cell and gene therapy.

Boston-headquartered Ginkgo has significantly expanded its work in cell and gene therapy over the last few years, including a program to improve adeno-associated virus (AAV) manufacturing in partnership with Biogen, and a program to develop AAV capsids with altered tropism and immunogenicity in partnership with Selecta Biosciences.

The field of nucleic acid therapeutics is a promising novel therapeutic modality, and Ginkgo has worked on programs across the space, including with Moderna and Aldevron, and is actively engaged in improving circular RNA efficacy and manufacturing yields.

With the acquisition of Circularis, a biotechnology company with a proprietary circular RNA (circRNA) and promoter screening platform, Ginkgo gains the ability to enable new solutions across bioproduction, RNA therapeutics, cell therapy and gene therapy partnerships.

When circularized, RNA is much longer-lived in cells, improving its robustness as a potential therapeutic modality. The Circularis platform also allows ultra-high-throughput screening of promoters and other enhancers.

RNA potential

Founded in Oakland, California in 2014, Circularis eyes up the power of circular RNA to control ‘any gene, in any species, in any cell type’. Its tech has applications across gene therapies, bio manufacturing and synthetic biology.

Of particular interest to Ginkgo is the Circularis platform in applications in cell and gene therapies: which can provide the capability to rapidly identify novel promoters with appropriate strength and tissue-specificity designed into customer specific delivery modalities.

Leveraging Ginkgo's ability to explore large numbers of genetic designs, these promoter libraries can be explored in combination with modified therapeutic payloads and capsids to provide gene therapy developers a solution that works across any range of cell or organism models. Similarly, the Circularis platform will give Ginkgo the ability to rapidly identify context-specific promoters for cell therapy applications, such as those that modulate gene expression in the tumor microenvironment.

"Circularis has built an exceptional platform to screen gene expression regulatory elements, a need across the cell and gene therapy space,"​ said Narendra Maheshri, Head of Mammalian Foundry at Ginkgo Bioworks. "We are excited to leverage the strong expertise of the Circularis team to further develop circular RNA methods for therapeutic use, and can't wait to incorporate this technology into existing and upcoming cell programs across therapeutic applications as well as more broadly."

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