Ginkgo Bioworks Awarded $40MM NIH RADx-ATP Contract to Expand High Throughput SARS-CoV-2 Testing
BOSTON, July 31, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Ginkgo Bioworks announced it has been awarded a contract from the NIH Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics Advanced Technology Platforms (RADx-ATP) program to scale its automated technology for SARS-CoV-2 testing using next-generation sequencing (NGS). The contract, which is for a maximum of approximately $40 million, will go toward expanding the operational capacity for large-scale SARS-CoV-2 testing in Ginkgo's automated "Bioworks" facilities.
Testing is a major pillar of public health responses necessary to predict, understand, control, and eventually end a pandemic. While national capacity has grown significantly during the course of the pandemic thus far, there is still a large, unmet need for more testing – experts believe millions of tests per day are needed for the United States to slow the spread and eventually, to contain COVID-19.
The RADx initiative was launched by NIH in order to speed innovation in the development, commercialization, and implementation of technologies for COVID-19 testing. In particular, the RADx-ATP is supporting the expansion of labs, such as Ginkgo's automated Bioworks fcilities, that can significantly scale the number of SARS-CoV-2 tests that can be performed each day in the United States.
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, making it possible to run tens of thousands of tests to detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2 virus at the same time. Coupled with Ginkgo's hardware and software that is designed for the large-scale automation of biological experiments, NGS has the potential to significantly increase COVID-19 testing capacity, contributing to the testing volume that many public health experts believe is necessary for slowing the spread of the virus.
"We're committed to expanding and ensuring access to testing and helping enable large scale suppression testing," said Jason Kelly, co-founder and CEO of Ginkgo Bioworks. "Ginkgo and the other NIH-RADx award recipients have shown that the United States has the technology to use widespread testing to suppress this virus — now we all need to get to work to scale it."
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