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Lung Biotechnology Expands Collaboration With Synthetic Genomics, Invests Additional $50M

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Synthetic Genomics and Lung Biotechnology announced Tuesday the expansion of a collaboration to develop transplantation-ready pig organs using synthetic genomic advances to now include kidney diseases.

The collaboration between the firms originally focused on lung diseases, and along with the new initiative in kidney ailments, Lung Biotechnology said that it has made an additional $50 million equity investment in SGI. Lung Biotechnology made a $50 million investment in SGI as part of the original collaboration in April 2014. 

As part of the expanded deal, SGI will receive royalties and milestones from the development and commercialization of organs resulting from the agreement. No further details were disclosed. 

SGI will use unique DNA design, DNA synthesis, genome editing, and genome modification tools to develop engineered primary pig cells with modified genomes. A substantial number of genes will be modified at "an unprecedented scale and efficiency," the partners said. United Therapeutics, the parent firm of Lung Biotechnology, will use its xenotransplantation expertise to implant the engineered cells, generating pig embryos which develop and are born with transplantable organs. 

SGI is developing the organs so that they can be used safely and effectively in humans. 

"Our expanded collaboration with Synthetic Genomics is significant for applying our growing xenotransplantation science platform to the problem of end-stage renal failure," United Therapeutics Chairman and Co-CEO Martine Rothblatt said in a statement. "Our combined expertise will accelerate our efforts to develop an expanded supply of transplantable kidneys, potentially helping tens of thousands of patients suffering from incurable kidney disease."