Synlogic will use Ginkgo Bioworks’ cell programming platform to expand and further develop a pipeline of novel “living” medicines based on engineered probiotics, building upon a 1½-year-old collaboration launched by the companies.

The companies have entered into a strategic platform collaboration in which Synlogic plans to apply Ginkgo’s cell programming platform for building and testing thousands of microbial strains, with the aim of accelerating progression of early preclinical leads to drug candidates optimized for further clinical development.

“The ability to program living cells to sense and respond to treat complex diseases has great potential. Synlogic’s platform for designing and developing living medicines that can treat a wide range of dynamic diseases has the potential to be transformative to the next generation of pharmaceuticals,” Jason Kelly, PhD, co-founder and CEO of Ginkgo Bioworks, said in a statement.

Boston-based Ginkgo designs custom-engineered microbes for customers across pharmaceuticals as well as food, manufacturing, and other applications.

Ginkgo has made an $80 million equity investment in publicly-traded Synlogic—which in turn paid Ginkgo $30 million for synthetic biology services to be provided over an initial five-year period that can be extended.

On Tuesday, Ginkgo closed on a purchase of 6,340,771 shares of Synlogic common stock as well as pre-funded warrants to purchase up to 2,548,117 shares of Synlogic common stock, both at a price of $9.00 per share—a 44% premium over Synlogic’s closing share price yesterday of $6.27.

Synlogic has exclusive rights to any Synthetic Biotic™ medicines that it develops as part of the collaboration and to intellectual property covering such products, the companies said.

The partnership builds on a collaboration launched in December 2017 in which Ginkgo agreed to help Synlogic discover new Synthetic Biotic treatments for neurological and liver disorders. Such treatments rely on engineered probiotics that are designed to perform critical metabolic conversions in the gut that can replace physiological activity missing or damaged in patients.

Treating rare genetic disorder

The companies said their pilot program enabled them to significantly improve strain quality and expedite development of a treatment for maple syrup urine disease, a rare, genetic disorder typically diagnosed at birth that can lead to seizures, coma, and death.

“This collaboration significantly enhances Synlogic’s Synthetic Biotic strain optimization capabilities and builds on the successful pilot program we began with Ginkgo in late 2017,” Aoife Brennan, MB ChB, Synlogic’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “It enables us to advance high-quality candidate strains into development more efficiently and provides technology and resources that will fuel pipeline expansion as we continue to advance our existing clinical programs.”

Based in Cambridge, MA, Synlogic has developed a pipeline led by two programs—SYNB1020, an oral treatment for hyperammonemia as a result of liver damage or genetic disease, and SYNB1618, an oral treatment for phenylketonuria. Synlogic is also developing SYNB1891 as an intratumorally-administered Synthetic Biotic immuno-oncology treatment for solid tumors, with an IND submission expected during the second half of this year.

In addition, Synlogic is in preclinical phases of developing treatments for additional oncology indications as well as additional rare metabolic diseases. Synlogic is also applying its platform to create additional Synthetic Biotic medicines for the treatment of liver disease, as well as inflammatory and immune disorders.

Together with AbbVie, Synlogic is working to develop Synthetic Biotic-based treatments for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), through a collaboration launched in February 2016.

On March 6, Synlogic said its collaboration with AbbVie had reached the lead optimization stage.

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