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Ginkgo Bioworks, Octant to Establish Bay Area Coronavirus Test Processing Facility

NEW YORK — Ginkgo Bioworks and Octant said on Thursday that they will open a new SARS-CoV-2 test processing facility in the San Francisco Bay Area.

According to the companies, the planned facility will use Octant's SwabSeq RNA amplicon sequencing protocol, which the Emeryville, California-based firm originally designed for its own work in human cell cultures but repurposed for SARS-CoV-2 detection. The freely available protocol — which involves a single-step RT-PCR reaction of a few amplicons, followed by sequencing, without the need for RNA extraction — is capable of running up to 10,000 SARS-CoV-2 tests a day.

The lab will be established and run by Ginkgo's Concentric end-to-end SARS-CoV-2 testing service, and the companies said they intend to develop additional diagnostics in the future and may use the new facility to support these projects.

Additional terms of the partnership were not disclosed.

"The infrastructure we are building in the Bay Area will expand testing access and further efforts on the West Coast to address the current pandemic, while also shoring up systems for early detection and pandemic response for the future," Ginkgo Cofounder and Chief Technology Officer Barry Canton said in a statement. "We look forward to developing a blueprint of a facility in the Bay Area that may be used as a template for additional locations across the country, extending access to diagnostic testing to more communities."

In July, Boston-based Ginkgo was awarded a contract worth up to $40 million under the National Institutes of Health's Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics initiative for SARS-CoV-2 testing services. A few months earlier, it received a $70 million investment from Illumina and other investors to build a large-scale sequencing-based coronavirus testing infrastructure in Boston.