Ginkgo buys genome mining platform from Warp Drive Bio, takes over Roche pact

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria
Creating drugs to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria is the main focus of the platform. (Getty/Dr_Microbe)

Ginkgo Bioworks is buying Warp Drive Bio’s genome mining team, tech and database, eyeing the platform for use in next-generation antibiotics.

Ginkgo has also taken on an antibiotics pact with Roche, initially penned by Warp Drive, which itself was bought by Revolution Medicines last fall, which could see the company in line for $160 million, according to Forbes.

The new platform is aimed at boosting efforts against drug-resistant bacterial infections: Not a sexy R&D area for biopharmas or one that is particularly profitable, but the most urgent, given that if antibiotics fail on a large scale, common bacterial infections could once again become a major scourge on humanity.

As part of the deal, Warp Drive Bio's genome mining team will move to Ginkgo's headquarters in Boston's Seaport District, along with the Warp Drive genomic sequence collection and bioinformatics software, the company said in a statement. The full financials of the deal have not been revealed.

RELATED: Roche taps Warp Drive to discover novel antibiotic classes in $387M pact

The genome mining platform will “supplement Ginkgo's state of the art sequencing capabilities, extensive biological codebase, bioinformatics and machine learning tools for gene discovery and strain engineering expertise for active pharmaceutical ingredient production,” it adds. The move sees Warp Drive move away from antibiotics and focus predominately on cancer, a much more profitable area for the biotech, and its new owner.

Jason Kelly, CEO and co-founder of Ginkgo Bioworks, said: “Bringing Warp Drive Bio's deep expertise in genomics-based natural products discovery to Ginkgo's codebase is the key to unlocking new products, like novel antibiotics that can help combat the rise of antibiotic-resistant diseases. We are thrilled to welcome the Warp Drive genome mining team to Ginkgo to continue their important work and embark on this pivotal journey together.”

RELATED: In conversation with: Laurence Reid, Warp Drive Bio CEO

“Following our acquisition of Warp Drive Bio, we have worked diligently to divest the company's genome mining technology, antibiotic research portfolio, and related personnel to a team best positioned to maximize the value of those assets: we have found that partner in Ginkgo Bioworks,” added Mark Goldsmith, M.D., Ph.D., president and CEO of Revolution.

“This transaction with Ginkgo allowed our team to maintain a laser focus on discovery and development of novel small molecule therapeutics designed to precisely inhibit the activity of frontier targets within the notorious oncogenic RAS pathway.”