Totient Partners with Ginkgo Bioworks to Apply Unique Discovery Platform to COVID-19 Antibody Efforts

AI-driven biotech firm partners with synbio giant to rapidly identify neutralizing antibodies to aid in addressing pandemic threat

BOSTON and CAMBRIDGE, MA, USA I September 10, 2020 I Today, Ginkgo Bioworks announced a partnership with Totient, an AI-driven drug discovery company emerging from stealth, to rapidly identify neutralizing antibodies against COVID-19. Through this partnership, Totient will leverage Ginkgo's bioengineering platform to express and screen thousands of antibody candidates with the aim of identifying broadly neutralizing therapeutic antibodies against COVID-19 for further development.

Totient leverages tertiary lymphoid structures (TLSs) to identify novel tissue-specific antigens and develop matching high-affinity antibody therapeutics. As the broader scientific community mobilizes to address the coronavirus pandemic, Totient has partnered with Ginkgo to adapt and scale its platform, which has been validated in oncology and autoimmunity, to aid in the effort to discover COVID-19 antibodies. Totient's population-scale antibody discovery platform reconstructs anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies from bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) samples. According to Daniele Biasici, Totient VP of Immunology, "Existing efforts focus on blood-derived antibodies, so focusing on BALF samples will enable Totient and Ginkgo to mine a largely unexplored source of therapeutic candidates."

"Our innovative team has worked tirelessly to develop, optimize, and validate a uniquely novel antibody discovery platform over the last two years, and have seen tremendous success to-date in identifying and expressing antibodies for oncology," said Totient CEO, Deniz Kural. "Ginkgo is a mission-critical partner for us as we apply our platform to the current and urgent public health crisis that COVID-19 presents."

"Our partnership with Totient underscores the potential of synthetic biology to accelerate responses to the critical threat of COVID-19," said Jason Kelly, CEO and co-founder of Ginkgo Bioworks. "Using the Ginkgo foundry, genetic codebase assets, and bioengineering expertise, we will scale and accelerate Totient's antibody analysis so that Totient can focus on what matters most: identifying COVID-19 antibodies that could ultimately help hundreds of thousands of patients and aid in slowing – if not, containing – the coronavirus pandemic."

To ensure a continued supply of BALF samples for high-throughput testing, Totient and Ginkgo have signed on the Avera McKennan Hospital as a clinical collaborator.

"Working with innovative biotech companies like Totient and Ginkgo allow us to better understand the disease in our patients with COVID-19 infection," stated Dr. John Lee CMO of Research at Avera Health.  "Using the BALF from patients should enable us to obtain neutralizing antibodies from the immune environment where the infection is localized, compared to looking for the sequences in paired blood samples."

Totient and Ginkgo aim to identify one or more patient-derived neutralizing antibody candidates to advance into IND enabling studies. This collaboration is the latest of Ginkgo's broader efforts to scale diagnostics and develop new therapeutics and vaccines to combat COVID-19. Learn more about Ginkgo's COVID-19 response efforts.

About Totient:
Totient is an AI-driven biotechnology company spun out of leading biomedical data company, Seven Bridges. Totient has developed and validated a population-scale antibody discovery platform that can reconstruct paired antibody sequences from patient RNA-Seq, a next-generation sequencing (NGS) technique that is widely available but challenging to parse. Totient leverages machine learning and immunoinformatics technology to pull critical insights from large, complex datasets, to quickly and accurately assemble the most potent antibody candidates. The unique applicability of the Totient platform allows the company to remain flexible and develop therapeutics for cancer, autoimmune disease, and infections. For more information, visit www.totient.bio.

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 synthetic biology across diverse markets, from food to fragrance to pharmaceuticals. Ginkgo is also actively supporting a number of COVID-19 response efforts, including community testing, epidemiological tracing, vaccine development and therapeutics discovery. For more information, visit www.ginkgobioworks.com.

SOURCE: Totient

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