Ginkgo and Aldevron partnership delivers tenfold mRNA improvement

The partnership with Aldevron has led to an mRNA breakthrough with their manufacturing approach proving 10 times more efficient than the previous process, says Ginkgo Bioworks.

The collaboration, which was formed earlier in 2021, has resulted in what the firms have called a breakthrough for Vaccinia Capping Enzymes (VCEs) used to manufacture messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines.

VCEs cause the human body to recognize the RNA as something it can translate into a protein, which is essentially how the vaccine works.

Image: iStock/Surendra Sharma

Under the terms of the partnership, Aldevron has the exclusive rights to the recently developed production process.

Ginkgo head of codebase Patrick Boyle told us it has been able to advance the manufacturing process as it has “a lot of pre-existing know how, and approaches and we’ve built our foundries to enable us to optimise those types of processes quickly.

“This can include everything from optimising the genetic design of the construct that’s used to produce the protein, to optimising the fermentation process by which you grow the protein and the downstream process by which you purify the protein. What we wanted to do is improve the yield while making sure that the resulting product was the same.”

COVID-19 and beyond

Although the most obvious use of mRNA production is currently to fight COVID-19, Ginkgo wants to look beyond COVID and “focus on being a broad platform for the entire industry,” said Boyle.

“Time will tell what the demand for particular types of mRNA components looks like, but I’m certainly hopeful that this technology will enable the broader distribution of these types of vaccines. Even if you’re only focused on COVID-19, more than two thirds of the world’s population haven’t been vaccinated. So ultimately, the near term focuses on improving supply and long term, the question is how will different clinical trials play out for alternative products [like] influenza vaccines etc.”