Ginkgo loads up CAR assets from Modulus, the latest in a string of deals

Ginkgo Bioworks’ swift moving business development team is slowing down long enough to load up some new chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) assets from Modulus Therapeutics.

The deal will see Ginkgo pick up a handful of cell therapy platform assets including CAR and switch receptor libraries. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Modulus has been quietly working on cell therapies, launching with a $3.5 million seed round in July 2021 to work on cancer. The company now focuses on autoimmune disorders, following a shift that’s been seen across the cell therapy space in the past year.

But what has attracted Ginkgo is Modulus’ libraries, made up of novel NK-specific and T-cell specific CAR and switch receptor designs that enable improved control and performance of immune-cell-based therapies. The company says the database can improve on the safety and efficacy of cell therapies by providing more precise control over activation and targeting.

"Modulus Therapeutics has built an array of incredible cell therapy assets that we are excited to add into the significant cell therapy capabilities Ginkgo has developed to date," said Ginkgo CEO Jason Kelly. "Modulus’ CAR and switch receptor designs and libraries seamlessly integrate into our existing infrastructure and offerings. We are excited to put these new assets to work for our customers and contribute to the transformative advancements in CAR and cell therapies."

Ginkgo already has a catalog of cell therapy assets customers can use to boost the performance of T-cell- and NK-cell-based CAR therapies in solid tumors, autoimmune and other diseases.

Modulus will slide in behind a suite of companies or assets brought in by Ginkgo’s business development team in recent months. On Feb. 28, the company announced a trio of acquisitions with Patch Biosciences, Reverie Labs and Proof Diagnostics. In April 2023, StrideBio was snapped up for $28.5 million for its adeno-associated virus capsid discovery and engineering platform.

Looking back even further, Ginkgo has always used acquisitions to fill out its offerings. The largest deal to date is the $486.9 million buyout of synthetic biology company Zymergen that was announced in July 2022.