Selecta Biosciences and Ginkgo Bioworks are extending their alliance to cover gene therapy delivery. Just months after disclosing a rare disease pact, the partners have unwrapped a second deal focused on the development of gene therapy capsids that address the limitations of current delivery vehicles.
The collaborators will apply Selecta’s platform for developing therapies that mitigate unwanted immune responses and Ginkgo’s cell programming capabilities to the creation of viral capsids. In doing so, the two companies aim to improve on the current crop of viral capsids, as Ginkgo CEO Jason Kelly explained in a statement to disclose the collaboration.
“Gene therapies utilize naturally occurring viral capsids that elicit immune responses and often exhibit safety and toxicity issues. We believe our collaboration with Selecta has the potential to confront major challenges within the gene therapy space and represents an important application of our cell programming platform,” Kelly said.
The partners have three objectives for the capsids: improved transduction, enhanced tissue tropism and reduced immunogenicity. Hitting those goals could result in gene therapies that get more DNA to target cells without triggering the immune responses behind some of the adverse events seen in recipients of existing treatments.
Selecta is paying Ginkgo upfront research and development fees and milestone payments, some of which will be paid in stock, to enter into the collaboration. In a financial filing, Selecta said the deal is worth up to $207 million in cash. The press release puts the value at up to $200 million for each product, with the ceiling for the entire deal set at $1.1 billion.
The new Selecta deal joins a growing list of biopharma collaborations at Ginkgo, which has deals with companies including Roche, through its acquisition of Warp Drive Bio, and Synlogic.
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