Ginkgo, Optimvia team up to boost production of biosynthetic heparin

Ginkgo Bioworks and Optimvia are partnering to boost the manufacturing efficiency of biosynthetic heparin, a medicine commonly used as an anticoagulant to help prevent blood clots.

Under the partnership, Optimvia, which specializes in creating enzymes to synthesize complex molecules for therapeutic use, will get access to Ginkgo’s cell programming technology. Financial terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed.

Optimvia aims to manufacture non-animal derived heparin as proof of principle for its platform, the company said.

Heparin is considered an essential drug by the World Health Organization. The ability to manufacture the drug through enzymatic production would help bolster the global supply of the life-saving treatment plus reduce the need for high-volume extraction of heparin from pig intestines.

"The goal of producing biosynthetic heparin is similar to Genentech's famous breakthrough of creating insulin through recombinant cell-based methods as opposed to relying on extraction from pig pancreas," Keith Kleeman, Optimvia’s chief executive, said in a statement. "We believe that combining Optimvia's novel technology and Ginkgo's capabilities will enable commercially viable, cost-effective and safe biosynthetic heparin that could eliminate the world's dependence on livestock sourced heparin entirely."

RELATED: Ginkgo and Aldevron tout mRNA manufacturing ‘breakthrough’-and the perks could stretch well beyond COVID-19, exec says

Ginkgo, which launched in 2009 with the goal of developing a platform that eases the cell engineering process, announced in May 2021 that it and its biomanufacturing partner Aldevron scored a win in the mRNA manufacturing arena. The two uncovered a path to boost production yields of the vaccinia capping enzyme (VCE) used to manufacture mRNA vaccines and therapeutics that is more than 10 times more efficient than before.

Ginkgo teamed up with Moderna in 2020 to help the biotech with process optimization for raw materials to make its mRNA vaccines. Ginkgo is also working with Roche to develop therapies against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.