Ginkgo Bioworks and ILRI's collaborative partnership aims to enhance global biosecurity and pandemic preparedness.
Biotech Corporate Partnerships

Ginkgo Bioworks and ILRI Join Forces for Pandemic Surveillance

In a significant step towards enhancing global biosecurity and pandemic preparedness, Ginkgo Bioworks (NYSE: DNA) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) have joined forces under a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on pandemic surveillance work. This strategic partnership aims to leverage their respective expertise and resources to identify, monitor, and mitigate pathogens and diseases that originate in animals and livestock, thereby reducing the risk of zoonotic spillover events.

Ginkgo Bioworks, a pioneering company focused on cell programming and biosecurity, has been at the forefront of developing innovative solutions to tackle biological threats. Through its biosecurity and public health unit, Concentric by Ginkgo, the company is building a global infrastructure for biosecurity to empower governments, communities, and public health leaders to prevent, detect, and respond to a wide range of biological threats.

ILRI is a prominent institution in the field of livestock research, with a focus on the One Health approach. This approach recognizes the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health and seeks to address challenges that arise at the intersection of these domains. ILRI’s mission is to deliver science-based practices, provide scientific evidence, and develop capacity in livestock development to improve livelihoods in developing countries and reduce the risk of livestock-related human diseases.

A central component of this collaboration is developing a joint biosurveillance and pathogen testing program. The partnership will begin with a pilot phase centered around wastewater testing, focusing on detecting key pathogens and antimicrobial-resistant genes through passive monitoring systems. This initial phase will be conducted in Nairobi, Kenya, with the potential to expand to other regions.

Zoonotic spillover events, where pathogens jump from animals to humans, have been responsible for many novel epidemic diseases in recent decades. By implementing comprehensive surveillance measures, such as wastewater testing, the partnership between Ginkgo Bioworks and ILRI aims to proactively identify potential threats and respond promptly to emerging infectious diseases.

In addition to wastewater testing, the collaboration envisions sequencing-based activities for pathogen identification and characterization. This advanced genomic approach will enable researchers to gain insights into the genetic makeup of pathogens, facilitating more accurate identification and tracking of potential disease outbreaks.

Furthermore, the data generated from these surveillance programs will not be confined within the partnership. Instead, it will be shared with national and international stakeholders, allowing for better coordination and a more comprehensive understanding of global biosecurity challenges. This transparent and collaborative approach is crucial for achieving effective pandemic preparedness on a global scale.

The partnership between Ginkgo Bioworks and ILRI aligns with the broader efforts of CGIAR’s Accelerate for Impact Platform (A4IP). A4IP is dedicated to co-designing and accelerating innovative solutions that address pressing global challenges, focusing on transforming food systems. By combining the expertise of research organizations and science-driven companies, A4IP seeks to bridge the gap between scientific research and real-world impact.

Companies and research institutions are breaking down traditional silos and embracing multidisciplinary collaborations through this collaboration. This approach inspires action and accelerates innovation’s impact, particularly in the realm of pandemic surveillance and biosecurity.

This partnership promises significant advancements in pandemic surveillance and biosecurity. The two organizations are paving the way for a safer and more secure future by combining cutting-edge technology, scientific expertise, and a commitment to collaboration. As the world grapples with the ongoing challenges of infectious diseases, this collaboration sets a powerful example of how public and private sector cooperation can lead to meaningful solutions that benefit us all.

Image provided by Ginkgo Bioworks

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