IARPA, Ginkgo Bioworks and Draper Announce New Technologies to Detect Engineered DNA

 

BOSTON, Oct. 17, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), the research and development arm of the U.S. Intelligence community, Ginkgo Bioworks (NYSE: DNA), the leading horizontal platform for cell programming and Draper, a nonprofit engineering innovation firm, today announced the completion of IARPA's Finding Engineering-Linked Indicators (FELIX) program. The program was created to augment and improve current biodetection and biosurveillance capabilities. Specifically, Ginkgo has developed a suite of new computational tools and Draper has developed a new experimental platform to help detect and identify when samples include genetically engineered biological systems. The results from the program will be presented on October 17, 2022 at 11am Eastern on YouTube.

Current methods for detecting signs of biological engineering are typically costly, slow, and capable of detecting only a subset of all possible genetic modifications. In collaboration with IARPA, Ginkgo developed an initial set of computational tools called ENDAR (Engineered Nucleotide Detection and Ranking) that assist trained analysts to identify genetic engineering in next generation sequencing (NGS) datasets. This software aims to make it possible for scientists to detect engineered DNA at scale.

"Through their work on the FELIX program, Ginkgo and Draper have achieved two major breakthroughs for the biodetection community," said David A. Markowitz, Program Manager at IARPA. "The ability to detect genetic engineering in complex biological samples has long been a moonshot goal, and these new capabilities are poised to transform national biosecurity efforts."

Designed to work across a range of biological organisms that may be found in complex, multi-species environments, ENDAR tools and methods could provide early alerts to the presence of engineered organisms and help expedite appropriate responses, thereby mitigating adverse consequences.

"Ginkgo has a core belief in the promise of engineered biology—a thriving bio-based economy that delivers benefits to society, the environment, and our health. We care deeply about securing that vision by ensuring that biology is engineered and deployed responsibly," said Jason Kelly, CEO and co-founder, Ginkgo Bioworks. "Working with IARPA, we've developed a fundamentally new biosecurity capability that will enhance our ability to detect, characterize, and respond to biological threats. We're excited to explore opportunities to deploy ENDAR as an integral component of our global biosecurity platform."

Draper's contributions to FELIX, under its contract with IARPA, include development of a lab-based genetic test, a custom bioinformatics pipeline that contextualizes DNA sequencing data and miniaturized microarray hardware all with the goal of characterizing otherwise impossible to detect genetic engineering. Potential applications include biothreat detection, environmental monitoring, and food inspection.

"At Draper, we believe that advances in gene editing technology are creating new opportunities for biosecurity," said Laura Seaman, Principal Scientist and Machine Intelligence group leader at Draper. "Under the FELIX program, we have developed a device and associated lab and computational methods that are sensitive enough to pick out an engineered organism in a complex environmental background containing millions of natural organisms—the signal-to-noise ratio is a significant improvement over current methods."

The event will feature a panel with participants including, Catherine Marsh, IARPA Director; David A. Markowitz, IARPA Program Manager; Joshua Dunn, Head of Design, Ginkgo Bioworks; Laura Seaman, Principal Scientist and Machine Intelligence Group Leader, at Draper; and Erin Rosenberger, Senior Member of Technical Staff, Biological Microsystems Group, at Draper. During the panel, the panelists will discuss the program findings and also feature a demo of the research results.

The presentation of results from the FELIX program on October 17 will be livestreamed. To register, please visit this link, which can also be accessed Monday at 11am Eastern via the Ginkgo Bioworks channel on YouTube.

About IARPA

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) invests in high-risk, high-payoff research programs to tackle some of the most difficult challenges of the agencies and disciplines in the Intelligence Community. IARPA's mission is to push the boundaries of science to develop solutions that empower the Intelligence Community to do its work better and more efficiently for national security.

About Draper

At Draper, we believe exciting things happen when new capabilities are imagined and created. Whether formulating a concept and developing each component to achieve a field-ready prototype or combining existing technologies in new ways, Draper engineers apply multidisciplinary approaches that deliver new capabilities to customers. As a nonprofit engineering innovation company, Draper focuses on the design, development and deployment of advanced technological solutions for the world's most challenging and important problems. We provide engineering solutions directly to government, industry and academia; work on teams as prime contractor or subcontractor; and participate as a collaborator in consortia. We provide unbiased assessments of technology or systems designed or recommended by other organizations—custom designed, as well as commercial-off-the-shelf. For more information, visit www.draper.com.       

About Ginkgo Bioworks

Ginkgo is building a platform to enable customers to program cells as easily as we can program computers. The company's platform is enabling biotechnology applications across diverse markets, from food and agriculture to industrial chemicals to pharmaceuticals. Ginkgo has also actively supported a number of COVID-19 response efforts, including K-12 pooled testing, vaccine manufacturing optimization and therapeutics discovery. For more information, visit www.ginkgobioworks.com.

Forward-Looking Statements of Ginkgo Bioworks

This press release contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws, including statements regarding the potential success of the partnership and Ginkgo's cell programming platform. These forward-looking statements generally are identified by the words "believe," "can," "project," "potential," "expect," "anticipate," "estimate," "intend," "strategy," "future," "opportunity," "plan," "may," "should," "will," "would," "will be," "will continue," "will likely result," and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements are predictions, projections and other statements about future events that are based on current expectations and assumptions and, as a result, are subject to risks and uncertainties. Many factors could cause actual future events to differ materially from the forward-looking statements in this press release, including but not limited to: (i) the effect of Ginkgo's business combination with Soaring Eagle Acquisition Corp. ("Soaring Eagle") on Ginkgo's business relationships, performance, and business generally, (ii) risks that the business combination disrupts current plans of Ginkgo and potential difficulties in Ginkgo's employee retention, (iii) the outcome of any legal proceedings that may be instituted against Ginkgo related to its business combination with Soaring Eagle, (iv) volatility in the price of Ginkgo's securities now that it is a public company due to a variety of factors, including changes in the competitive and highly regulated industries in which Ginkgo operates and plans to operate, variations in performance across competitors, changes in laws and regulations affecting Ginkgo's business and changes in the combined capital structure, (v) the ability to implement business plans, forecasts, and other expectations after the completion of the business combination, and identify and realize additional opportunities, (vi) the risk of downturns in demand for products using synthetic biology, (vii) the unpredictability of the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and the demand for COVID-19 testing and the commercial viability of our COVID-19 testing business, (viii) changes to the biosecurity industry, including due to advancements in technology, emerging competition and evolution in industry demands, standards and regulations, and (ix) our ability to close and realize the expected benefits of pending merger and acquisition transactions. The foregoing list of factors is not exhaustive. You should carefully consider the foregoing factors and the other risks and uncertainties described in the "Risk Factors" section of Ginkgo's quarterly report on Form 10-Q filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC") on August 15, 2022 and other documents filed by Ginkgo from time to time with the SEC. These filings identify and address other important risks and uncertainties that could cause actual events and results to differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made. Readers are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking statements, and Ginkgo assumes no obligation and does not intend to update or revise these forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise. Ginkgo does not give any assurance that it will achieve its expectations.

IARPA MEDIA CONTACT:
DNI-Media@dni.gov

GINKGO BIOWORKS INVESTOR CONTACT:
investors@ginkgobioworks.com

GINKGO BIOWORKS MEDIA CONTACT:
press@ginkgobioworks.com

 

 

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SOURCE Ginkgo Bioworks

 
 
Company Codes: NYSE:DNA
 

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