Asimov and Center for Breakthrough Medicines Form Strategic Partnership for Viral Vector Production
• CBM to license Asimov’s HEK293 viral vector production platform for use in preclinical and clinical manufacturing
• HEK293 cell line is GMP-banked and qualified, ready for immediate use
• Partnership aligns with Asimov’s mission to advance the design and manufacture of cell and gene therapies
BOSTON, Jan. 18, 2023 – Asimov, the synthetic biology company advancing the design and manufacture of therapeutics, announced today a strategic partnership with Center for Breakthrough Medicines (CBM), a leading contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) dedicated to accelerating the commercialization of cell and gene therapies.
As part of the partnership, Asimov has licensed its clonal GMP HEK293 suspension cell line to CBM for pre-clinical and clinical production of viral vectors for its clients. HEK293 cell lines are the industry standard for producing therapeutic viral vectors, the most widely used vehicle for the delivery of gene therapies. With the unprecedented rise in approvals for new therapies, CBM will now be able to offer its clients immediate access to a high-performance clonal GMP qualified cell line as part of its comprehensive capabilities for vector manufacturing designed to deliver high yields and higher throughput without comprising quality.
“Our partnership with CBM is a major step forward in our goal to advance therapeutics manufacturing,” said Alec Nielsen, CEO of Asimov. “This validates our efforts in the viral vector space, and supports other research directions in host cell optimization, genetic system engineering, and bioreactor process modeling and development. By licensing our HEK293 viral vector production platform, CBM will be able to provide their clients with immediate access to reduce the cost of manufacturing these complex therapeutics.”
Through the agreement, CBM will offer its clients access to the platform as part of its end to end comprehensive capabilities for vector manufacturing designed to accelerate development and manufacturing timelines of vector based advanced therapies.
“We believe this is the initial step of many with Asimov, an industry leader in mammalian synthetic biology and cell line development,” said Avi Nandi, Chief Technical Officer at CBM. “We continue to make significant investments into our technology platforms to ensure our clients have access to an end-to-end solution that allows them to develop and manufacture at lower costs. Our goal is for rare disease therapies to be accessible to as many patients around the world as possible and our relationship with Asimov removes a key barrier to therapy developers.”
Headquartered in Boston, Asimov’s mission is to advance humanity’s ability to design living systems, enabling biotechnologies with outsized societal benefit. The company is developing a synthetic biology platform – from cells to software – to design and manufacture next-generation therapeutics, including biologics, cell/gene therapies, and RNA. Founded by bioengineers from MIT and Boston University, the company has raised over $200 million from top institutional investors including Andreessen Horowitz, CPP Investments, Horizons Ventures, and Fidelity Management & Research Company. For more information, visit www.asimov.com.
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Asimov, the synthetic biology company building a full-stack platform to program living cells, announced today it has been awarded a contract as part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Automating Scientific Knowledge Extraction (ASKE) opportunity.
Through ASKE, Asimov will work to develop a physics-based artificial intelligence (AI) design engine for biology. The goal of the initiative is to improve the reliability of programming complex cellular behaviors.
“To achieve truly predictive engineering of biology, we require dramatic advances in computer-aided design. Machine learning will be critical to bridge genome-scale experimental data with computational models that accurately capture the underlying biophysics. As genetically engineered systems grow in complexity, they become difficult for humans to design and understand. For simple genetic systems with only a couple of genes, synthetic biologists typically use high-throughput screening and basic optimization algorithms. But to engineer more complex applications in health, materials, and manufacturing, we need radically new algorithms to intelligently design the DNA and simulate cell behavior.”
Alec Nielsen, Phd, Asimov CEO
Asimov’s founders previously built a hybrid genetic engineering and computer-aided design platform called Cello to program logic circuit behaviors in cells. The ASKE opportunity will seek to support an ambitious expansion in the types of biological behaviors that can be engineered.
Asimov’s approach will leverage “multi-omics” cellular measurements, structured biological metadata, and novel AI architectures that combine deep learning, reinforcement learning, and mechanistic modeling. Over the past year, the company has ramped up hiring in experimental synthetic biology, machine learning, and data science to accelerate development of their genetic design platform.
DARPA recently announced a multi-year investment of $2B into innovative artificial intelligence research called the AI Next campaign. A part of this wide-ranging AI strategy is DARPA’s Artificial Intelligence Exploration program, which was developed to help expeditiously move pioneering AI research from idea to exploration in fewer than 90 days. DARPA’s ASKE opportunity is part of this program and is focused on developing AI technologies that can reason over rich models of complex systems.
“Over the past 50 years, DARPA has been a world leader in spurring innovation across the field of AI, including statistical-learning and rule-based approaches. We are proud to work with DARPA to advance the state-of-the-art in AI-assisted genetic engineering.”
Alec Nielsen, PhD, Asimov CEO