Ginkgo Bioworks, a Boston, MA-based company that uses biology to grow products, received a $70M investment.
Backers included Illumina (Nasdaq: ILMN) and existing investors General Atlantic and Viking Global Investors.
Now, the company intends to leverage Illumina’s sequencing (NGS) technology to enable widespread testing for COVID-19. Originally designed for sequencing the 3 billion base pair human genome, NGS equipment can read, process and analyze many DNA and RNA samples in parallel on one machine. These machines can be utilized to detect the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, enabling tens of thousands of tests to be run at the same time on equipment the size of a washing machine. Coupled with Ginkgo’s hardware and software that is designed for the large-scale automation of biological experiments, NGS has the potential to increase COVID-19 testing capacity.
Ginkgo is deploying its resources toward building an epidemic monitoring and diagnostic testing facility in its Boston Seaport labs, developing processes that use Illumina’s NGS technology for large-scale testing, in addition to whole genome sequencing and environmental monitoring.
Currently in an early build phase, Ginkgo aims to have NGS-based testing capacity available to help reopen schools and businesses. Additionally, the company has already made its current NGS capacity available at no cost to public health departments across the U.S.
Led by Jason Kelly, CEO and co-founder, Ginkgo Bioworks uses a cell programming platform enabling the growth of biotechnology across diverse markets, from food to fragrance to pharmaceuticals.