Ginkgo Bioworks, the organism company, today announced it acquired the genome mining platform from Warp Drive Bio, a subsidiary of REVOLUTION Medicines, Inc. With the acquisition, Ginkgo will integrate Warp Drive Bio’s genome mining team, technology, and database into its already vast codebase and premier platform for biological engineering. This pairing of the two teams and the merging of biological information and technical capabilities brings unprecedented power to the search for new antibiotics, as well as other pharmaceutical applications.
Warp Drive Bio’s genome mining platform enables access to valuable natural products that have previously gone undiscovered due to historical technology limitations. The company’s proprietary genomic search engine combs databases of microbial genomes to reveal those “hidden” natural products that cannot be detected under normal laboratory conditions. The platform is predicated on high-resolution genomic sequencing to identify, analyze and evaluate over 100 classes of potential antibiotics to develop novel medicines. Warp Drive Bio’s genomic database includes more than 135,000 bacterial strains with the potential to encode more than four million biosynthetic gene clusters to be used in the development of novel antibiotics.
“Biodiversity is immense and rich with potential for finding new solutions to problems burdening society,” said Jason Kelly, CEO and co-founder of Ginkgo Bioworks. “Bringing Warp Drive Bio’s deep expertise in genomics-based natural products discovery to Ginkgo’s codebase is the key to unlocking new products, like novel antibiotics that can help combat the rise of antibiotic-resistant diseases. We are thrilled to welcome the Warp Drive genome mining team to Ginkgo to continue their important work and embark on this pivotal journey together.”
Antibiotic resistance is a growing worldwide problem, endangering thousands of people across the globe and threatening modern medicine. Post-acquisition, Ginkgo Bioworks will accelerate a path toward uncovering a new class of antibiotics that could reverse the current trajectory in antibiotics. This acquisition complements Ginkgo’s existing efforts – a partnership with Synlogic to develop living medicines and the opening of Bioworks4 to engineer mammalian cells – to expand the reach of synthetic biology in pharmaceutical applications.
As part of the deal, Warp Drive Bio’s genome mining team will move to Ginkgo’s headquarters in Boston’s Seaport District, along with the Warp Drive genomic sequence collection and bioinformatics software. The genome mining platform will supplement Ginkgo’s state of the art sequencing capabilities, extensive biological codebase, bioinformatics and machine learning tools for gene discovery and strain engineering expertise for active pharmaceutical ingredient production. REVOLUTION Medicines acquired Warp Drive Bio in October 2018, and retains all rights to its non-genome mining programs, including inhibitors of multiple RAS mutants that drive various forms of cancer.
“Following our acquisition of Warp Drive Bio, we have worked diligently to divest the company’s genome mining technology, antibiotic research portfolio, and related personnel to a team best positioned to maximize the value of those assets – we have found that partner in Ginkgo Bioworks,” said Mark A. Goldsmith, M.D., Ph.D, president and CEO of REVOLUTION Medicines. “This transaction with Ginkgo allowed our team to maintain a laser focus on discovery and development of novel small molecule therapeutics designed to precisely inhibit the activity of frontier targets within the notorious oncogenic RAS pathway.”