Pfizer hooks up with Ginkgo for $331M biobucks deal on unspecified targets

Ginkgo Bioworks has snared one of its biggest partners to date. The biology biotech will work with none other than Pfizer in a drug discovery deal for RNA medicines worth $331 million in biobucks for three programs. 

The companies did not break down the deal details, but the $331 million encompasses an upfront payment, research fees and development and commercial milestone payments plus royalties later on. 

What exactly the partnership will research is also being kept quiet, with the Wednesday release only noting “the discovery and development of novel RNA molecules across priority research areas.” If we’re talking Pfizer’s priorities, vaccines, internal and genetic medicines, anti-infectives, oncology and inflammation and immunology are the five pillars of the R&D program showcased by executives during a second-quarter earnings call in early August. 

Pfizer has certainly come up to speed on mRNA medicines with its BioNTech partnership that spawned the COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty. The companies have further partnerships to work on other indications as well. 

With Ginkgo, Pfizer hopes to find new RNA constructs that can improve stability and expression to create new therapeutics, according to Will Somers, Ph.D., head of biomedicine design at the Big Pharma. 

Ginkgo has been busy this summer signing deals to use its many services for the pharmaceutical and other industries. In August, Merck & Co. signed a second deal with the biotech to work on biologic manufacturing for up to $490 million. Boehringer Ingelheim also tapped Ginkgo for a discovery pact in undruggable targets worth up to $406 million in May.