Busy dealmakers Ginkgo, Boehringer Ingelheim sign one together with $406M for undruggable targets

Ginkgo Bioworks and Boehringer Ingelheim are linking arms as they venture into the forest of undruggable targets, with the larger pharma offering up to $406 million for Ginkgo’s molecules. 

Ginkgo will also receive an undisclosed upfront fee for its R&D efforts, according to an announcement Monday. The two companies did not elaborate on how many targets Ginkgo was obligated to identify but said the $406 million is the aggregate amount of biobucks the biotech stands to gain. 

The deal allows Boehringer to take a pickax to Ginkgo’s Codebase, a library of more than three terabases of sequencing data, in order to identify potential therapies. One terabase is equal to the genetic sequencing data of 1 trillion base pairs. 

The collaboration is the latest in an expansive business development effort from Ginkgo, with a recent focus on gene therapy. A month ago, the company bought AAV capsid maker StrideBio for its intellectual property. The hope is that Stride’s platform could be used for future partnerships to help other companies find new therapies. Ginkgo explicitly said it wasn’t interested in Stride’s preclinical asset and plans to out-license or sell it. 

“We're not moving into clinical development,” Anna Marie Wagner, Ginkgo’s head of corporate development, said at the time. 

Boehringer has been equally aggressive on the partnership front as of late, most recently collaborating with Melbourne-based biotech Kinoxis Therapeutics to develop new neuropsychiatry treatments. Boehringer offered up to $181 million in milestone payments for that deal. The German pharma has also used licensing deals to try to bolster its oncology franchise, partnering with Covant Therapeutics in late March to work on an ADAR1 inhibitor in exchange for up to $481 million. 

Ginkgo is the second computational-focused target discovery company to link up with Boehringer in the last month, after NaturalAntibody announced an antibody-focused discovery pact in early April. Financial terms of the deal were not included when it was announced.