Antheia and Ginkgo Bioworks Announce Partnership to Accelerate Production of Essential Medicines Using Synthetic Biology
Antheia, a synthetic biology company enabling next-generation plant-inspired medicines, and Ginkgo Bioworks, which is building the leading horizontal platform for cell programming, today announced a partnership to accelerate the development and production of essential medicines. Ginkgo, which recently announced a business combination with Soaring Eagle Acquisition Corp. (NASDAQ: SRNG), serves customers across industries seeking to develop new and better products. Antheia plans to leverage Ginkgo’s high throughput enzyme design and screening capabilities to broaden its pipeline of critical active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and key starting materials (KSMs).
Nearly half of all medicines today are sourced from nature, and many of the most widely used essential medicines are sourced directly from medicinal plants. The World Health Organization classifies “essential medicines” as medicines “that satisfy the priority health care needs of the population.” The supply chains for most critical plant-based medicines are fragile, and depend on a years-long process of growing, harvesting, transporting, and processing specialty plants. During times of extreme demand or constrained supply, many plant-based medicines, including widely used analgesics and sedatives, can be in shortage, as was recently the case during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Antheia is committed to using synthetic biology to enable more equitable access to essential medicines,” said Kristy Hawkins, CSO and co-founder at Antheia. “By partnering with Ginkgo Bioworks, a global leader in organism engineering, we are greatly increasing our ability to develop essential medicines at the speed and scale necessary to drive change in global pharma supply chains.”
Synthetic biology platforms, such as those created by Antheia and Ginkgo Bioworks, make it possible for critical medicines to be produced on-demand in a much more efficient and environmentally friendly process compared to today’s fragmented production systems. Additionally, when it comes to plant-based pharmaceuticals, biomanufacturing has significant advantages in supply chain resiliency and agility, cost, quality control, sustainability and efficiency compared to the conventional production methods, which are based on crop farming.
“We’re proud to partner with Antheia, a leader in the application of synthetic biology, as they leverage our platform to produce essential medicines at scale,” said Tom Knight, co-founder at Ginkgo Bioworks. “Antheia and Ginkgo are both committed to using biology to build a better future, and we look forward to a long lasting partnership that will drive substantial impact.”
Antheia is focused on plant-inspired pharmaceuticals that are too complex to be produced through scalable synthetic chemistry processes. Antheia has managed to efficiently produce these highly-complex pharmaceuticals by pioneering whole-cell engineering, a technique that reconstructs multi-step biosynthetic pathways of unprecedented complexity in yeast cells. As Antheia brings its engineered microbes to commercial scale, it continually invests in strain optimization to ensure highly efficient production of the pharmaceutical compound of interest. Through this partnership, Antheia plans to leverage Ginkgo’s extensive and rapid cell programming platform and biological codebase to greatly expand and accelerate its strain and enzyme engineering work.
“Antheia is at the cutting edge of synthetic biology innovation, and its whole-cell engineering platform is capable of producing entire classes of medicines that were previously inaccessible,” said Barry Canton, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at Ginkgo Bioworks. “We are thrilled that Ginkgo’s platform can support innovators like Antheia as they create next generation manufacturing technologies for essential medicines.”