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Biotechs Partner to Boost mRNA Manufacturing

DNA chip graphic

(Gerd Altmann, Pixabay)

3 Apr. 2023. Two companies working in synthetic biology are advancing a new process they say increases the scale and reduces costs of messenger RNA manufacturing. Financial and intellectual property details of the collaboration between Sensible Biotechnologies in Oxford U.K. and Bratislava, Slovakia, and Ginkgo Bioworks in Boston were not disclosed.

Sensible Biotechnologies is a two year-old company that seeks to provide synthetic messenger ribonucleic acid for therapeutics and vaccines. Messenger RNA or mRNA is transcribed from the genetic code in DNA with instructions for producing proteins in cells. In synthetic forms, mRNA is used in vaccines and therapies to invoke specific immune responses, gaining recent popular recognition for Covid-19 vaccines.

Sensible Bio says its in vivo or inside-organism technology addresses limitations in current processes for making mRNA. The company says most mRNA is generated today with purified enzymes in a cumbersome, inconsistent, and expensive in vitro or lab-culture process, which typically limits production outputs. The Sensible Bio process, says the company, creates synthetic mRNA with fermentation from genetically engineered cells, designed with computational processes. Miroslav Gasparek, the company’s co-founder and CEO, recently completed his doctorate degree at University of Oxford, studying design and analysis of complex gene circuits, and engineered microbial communities.

Designs engineered forms of organisms

Ginkgo Bioworks develops and manufactures engineered bio-based materials, synthesizing DNA and other nucleic acids for health care, agriculture, and industrial applications. The company says it designs engineered forms of organisms with its synthetic nucleic acids, from libraries of synthetic genes and engineered cells in Ginkgo’s codebase that it says makes possible development of new types of enzymes on demand.

As reported by Science & Enterprise in the past year, Ginkgo Bioworks collaborates with other biotechnology enterprises, as well as acquiring industrial and agricultural bio-materials companies. In the new partnership, the two companies aim to develop a process for scaling-up Sensible Bio’s mRNA technology to enable production of 100,000 liters, while maintaining a high-quality product with longer RNA strands of nucleotide components.

Austin Che, Ginkgo Bioworks co-founder and head of strategy notes in a Sensible Bio statement released through Cision, “As the market for mRNA continues to expand, biopharma companies are looking for more efficient and scalable production platforms to produce high-quality mRNA.”

“In vivo mRNA manufacturing could enable scalable mRNA manufacturing,” says Gasparek, “which has long relied on production methods that face quality control challenges and are inherently difficult to scale. By working with Ginkgo, we aim to create a scalable commercial-grade manufacturing platform that produces mRNA of higher quality than is possible through in vitro expression and enable the advent of novel mRNA medicines.”

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