Esperovax and Ginkgo Bioworks have agreed a partnership to develop circular RNAs (circRNAs) for a variety of therapeutic applications.
Initially, the companies will work to develop circRNAs harbouring payloads to specifically target colorectal cancer by inducing cell death only in cancerous cells.
CircRNAs represent an emerging, powerful mechanism for delivering therapeutics and vaccines due to their protein-coding potential and improved stability in comparison to their linear mRNA counterparts.
This collaboration aims to further exploit circRNAs by developing a novel mechanism to facilitate RNA circularisation specifically in colorectal cancer cells. This would result in extended expression of the toxic payload solely in cancer cells, reducing toxicity and resulting side effects from the death of normal cells.
By combining omics datasets, computational approaches, and high-throughput screening capabilities, Ginkgo will design, build and screen large numbers of RNA designs that leverage and optimise Esperovax’s novel mechanism of cell-type specific circularisation.
“Given therapeutic developments in recent years, the idea of inducing a suicide gene therapy system in a tissue-specific manner has gained traction,” said Randy Wayne Schekman, a Nobel Prize recipient in Physiology or Medicine and Advisor at Esperovax.
“As we aim to build off that traction with the ultimate goal of improving cancer patient outcomes, Ginkgo’s momentum and achievements in the therapeutics space made the company an essential and trusted team to partner with, giving us the confidence that we can eventually make this goal a reality.”