Boston Company Acquires StrideBio’s Gene Therapy Assets

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StrideBio, a gene therapy company based in Research Triangle Park, has sold its intellectual property to Ginkgo Bioworks of Boston.

Ginkgo acquired StrideBio's adeno-associated virus (AAV) capsid discovery and engineering platform assets and will acquire additional in-license agreements in a secondary close, according to a news release from Ginkgo.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but one employee of StrideBio will transfer to Ginkgo as part of the transaction, joining Ginkgo's mammalian engineering team, according to the company.

The status of StrideBio as an ongoing business was not immediately clear. A Ginkgo spokesman deferred questions about StrideBio’s future to that company, but multiple calls and emails to the company were un-returned. 

The news release said no real estate was involved in the transaction. StrideBio has a headquarters office and also announced in 2021 that it had completed a 6,700-square-foot GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) manufacturing facility. The status of those facilities was unclear.

Plans for technology

Ginkgo announced it would incorporate StrideBio’s intellectual property into its end-to-end AAV gene therapy development platform, allowing Ginkgo's customers to leverage new tools to target many different tissue types, and potentially to improve the safety profile of their future gene therapies. 

Ginkgo will also receive StrideBio's existing library of capsids that are now available for licensing and broader partnership. Capsids are viral shells that are used to ferry therapeutic genes into cells.

Additionally, Ginkgo will receive the intellectual property and data for StrideBio's lead preclinical asset for the potential treatment of arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy, a rare genetic heart disease. Ginkgo plans to sell or out-license the asset to a commercial partner. 

AAV remains the preferred viral vector for gene therapy and is being used in hundreds of active clinical trials. However, pharmaceutical developers focusing on AAV still face challenges pertaining to limitations in targeted biodistribution, pre-existing immunogenicity and manufacturability, according to Ginkgo. 

StrideBio's STRIVE platform, which uses a structural-engineering approach for generating novel AAV capsids to address these limitations, has produced a library of candidates that have demonstrated “strong evidence” for both performance and targeting across multiple animal models, according to Ginkgo.

"The StrideBio team has built a deep pipeline of AAV capsids and libraries to address critical challenges facing clinical gene therapy with a focus on reducing vector dose and improving safety by limiting off-target biodistribution," said Aravind Asokan, Ph.D, StrideBio’s co-founder. With Ginkgo's expertise and scale, we hope to amplify this effort and deploy this platform to the gene therapy industry and ultimately, patients."

StrideBio's platform generates capsids that are designed to overcome current limitations of first-generation gene therapies, including reduced seroprevalence, improved tropism for cell types beyond the liver such as those in the central nervous system and muscle tissue, and increased gene transfer efficiency, with the potential for improved safety and reduced doses in the clinic.

"Combining Ginkgo's engineering and discovery capabilities in enzymes, regulatory elements, and capsids enables a holistic approach to designing an AAV gene therapy, so that we can support our partners across the entire process of designing the viral vector," said Narendra Maheshri, head of mammalian engineering at Ginkgo. 

About the companies

StrideBio was co-founded in 2015 by Asokan, Pat Ritschel and the late Mavis Agbandje-McKenna. 

Asokan is a professor and director of gene therapy at Duke University and previously was on the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was also a scientific founder of Bamboo Therapeutics, a Chapel Hill gene therapy company that was sold to Pfizer in 2020.

Ritschel is a life sciences entrepreneur and investor who was also involved in the formation of Bamboo Therapeutics. 

Agbandje-McKenna was director of the Center of Structural Biology and professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Florida before her death in 2021.

In 2021 StrideBio raised $81.5 million in Series B venture capital and announced it had hired its 100th employee. Those developments came on the heels of signing major partnerships for its capsids with Takeda Pharmaceutical Company and Sarepta Therapeutics in 2019.

Ginkgo Bioworks, founded in 2008 by an MIT professor and four graduate students, is focused on cell programming services for applications in diverse markets including food and agriculture, pharmaceuticals and industrial and specialty chemicals. Its biosecurity and public health unit, Concentric by Ginkgo, helps governments, communities and public health leaders to prevent, detect and respond to a wide variety of biological threats.

The company is publicly held, and its shares trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

Barry Teater, NCBiotech Writer
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