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Ginkgo Bioworks and Octant Partner to Expand COVID-19 Testing Capacity using Next-Generation Sequencing Technology

Partnership will bring large-scale test processing capacity to the San Francisco Bay Area as part of Ginkgo’s plans to expand testing nationwide

BOSTONDec. 10, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Today, Ginkgo Bioworks, Inc. (“Ginkgo”) and Octant, Inc (“Octant”) announced a partnership to grow critical diagnostic testing capacity to address the COVID-19 pandemic, and build infrastructure to confront future health and biosecurity concerns. As part of this partnership, they will open a new processing facility in the San Francisco Bay Area that will deploy Octant’s SwabSeq sequencing platform and Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) technology, initially capable of running up to 10,000 SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic tests per day, with potential to scale further. The lab will be established and run by Concentric by Ginkgo, Ginkgo’s end-to-end service for COVID-19 testing.

Though deployment of vaccines is on the horizon, testing remains a critical part of the larger public health strategy to combat COVID-19 and additional testing capacity is required to meet rising demand across the country. The nearly 22,000-square-foot Bay Area facility will support demand on the West Coast, and supplements the testing capacity Ginkgo has already built in Boston, which is designed to process tens of thousands of SARS-CoV-2 tests a day. The Bay Area lab will also serve as a replicable prototype for a processing center that could be easily repurposed and scaled across the country.

“The infrastructure we are building in the Bay Area will expand testing access and further efforts on the West Coast to address the current pandemic, while also shoring up systems for early detection and pandemic response for the future,” said Barry Canton, PhD, CTO and co-founder of Ginkgo Bioworks. “We’re thrilled to collaborate with Octant to potentially develop a best-in-class high-sensitivity molecular diagnostic, and we look forward to developing a blueprint of a facility in the Bay Area that may be used as a template for additional locations across the country, extending access to diagnostic testing to more communities.”

The lab will leverage Octant’s proprietary SwabSeq technology, a high-throughput sequencing platform. NGS technology can be used to detect the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and significantly increase COVID-19 testing capacity. Octant’s SwabSeq platform optimized the NGS testing approach to be highly sensitive and cost-effective, while avoiding traditional bottlenecks in the testing process. This advanced technology, which is available for use through an open patent license, can also be further developed for broader testing efforts for other respiratory illnesses, including the common cold and flu.

“SwabSeq is just one example of how high-throughput multiplexed biology will solve important problems in new ways. At Octant, we had built, optimized and scaled a high-throughput RNA-amplicon sequencing platform for our drug discovery programs. We were able to rapidly repurpose the technology for COVID-19 detection to aid in fighting the pandemic,” said Sri Kosuri, PhD, CEO at Octant. “We are proud to partner with Ginkgo and apply our platform to scale testing in this critical moment.”

In the future, Ginkgo and Octant plan to collaborate to develop other diagnostic tests, and may also utilize the Bay Area facility to support future diagnostic projects.

Learn more about Ginkgo’s COVID-19 response efforts.

About Ginkgo Bioworks:

Headquartered in Boston, Ginkgo Bioworks uses the most advanced technology on the planet—biology—to grow better products. The company’s cell programming platform is enabling the growth of biotechnology across diverse markets, from food to fragrance to pharmaceuticals. For more information, visit www.ginkgobioworks.com.

About Octant, Inc:

Octant is a synthetic biology drug discovery company designing multi-target drug leads for multifactorial diseases. Octant engineers biology using living cells to inform rational drug design by mapping, measuring and modeling compound reactions against GPCRs and ultimately, the entire universe of human receptors. For more information visit www.octant.bio.

Ginkgo Bioworks Contact:
Kelsey Donohue
ginkgobioworks@missionnorth.com

Octant Contacts:
Susan Kinkead
(415) 509-3610
susan@waterhousebrands.com

Kim Kraemer
(415) 939-9033
kkraemer@waterhousebrands.com

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