Ginkgo Bioworks and Glycosyn LLC Announce $14MM Deal to Scale Production of Human Milk Oligosaccharides

Ginkgo offers accessible synthetic biology infrastructure to realize untapped nutritional and pharmaceutical applications

BOSTON, Nov. 8, 2018 — Today, Ginkgo Bioworks, the organism company, and Glycosyn LLC, a biotech company developing components of human milk, announced a $14MM deal to optimize and scale the production of human milk oligosaccharides (hMOS) for a suite of products that offer health benefits by fostering a healthy gut microbial ecology. Combining Glycosyn’s experience in hMOS with Ginkgo’s world-class organism engineering platform will drive new advances in and awareness of the widespread health benefits and applications of hMOS.

While major progress has been made in understanding the potential of hMOS, research to-date has been limited by the inability to access multiple hMOS at large scale and high purity. Although only one hMOS— 2′-fucosyllactose (2′-FL)—is available at commercial scale today, Glycosyn has developed a unique portfolio that can produce 15 additional hMOS at lab scale. With Ginkgo’s automated, high-throughput foundry, Glycosyn will now be able to more effectively optimize and enhance these existing hMOS-producing strains to scale up production, as well as develop dozens of new hMOS products. Augmenting Glycosyn’s existing operations and strain development with Ginkgo’s infrastructure for bioengineering will significantly increase the pace and scope of research into hMOS properties, unlocking new applications.

Over 200 unique hMOS are found in human breast milk, where they provide many important health and nutritional benefits for infants. Glycosyn has developed a portfolio of microbial strains that can readily produce hMOS for use in infant formula and other nutritional or health applications. While infant formula containing one of these crucial sugars is commercially available today, the broader potential of hMOS has remained largely untapped. hMOS provide a wide array of health benefits; from maintaining a healthy gut microbiome, to improving immune function, to preventing infection. Early research indicates hMOS could have even larger implications for treating diseases of the gut including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), as well as repairing the damage done to the gut ecosystem by antibiotic therapies.

“We’ve established ourselves as the industry leader thanks to our IP and high-quality strains, and we are now ready to expand the breadth of hMOS we work with and their use cases in pharma,” said John Garrett, Glycosyn co-CEO. “We have a strong team with deep technical expertise, but what we haven’t had yet is the ability to truly scale our work. Building a lab in-house that could truly meet our needs would be resource intensive and time consuming; Ginkgo will enable us to continue doing what we do best with more efficiency and improved economics than ever before, and explore new strains and products.”

Ginkgo recently opened the doors to its fourth foundry, Bioworks4 with new capabilities to genetically engineer mammalian cells – cultured human and animal cells. With these new capabilities, Ginkgo will support companies of all sizes to leverage synthetic biology in their existing and emerging pharmaceutical work.

“As we’ve grown our platform for organism engineering, it’s been incredible to see how other industries are tapping into biology and leveraging Ginkgo to enhance, scale and expand important work that could profoundly impact and improve our world,” said Jason Kelly, CEO and co-founder of Ginkgo Bioworks. “We’re thrilled to partner with Glycosyn to accelerate their ability to bring hMOS to market and further human health.”

Ginkgo’s foundries are uniquely positioned to accelerate development for its industry partners; at current capacity, a biological engineer working with the foundry can accomplish nearly 25 times more than was possible using traditional by-hand methods, a number that continues to increase as Ginkgo grows and its foundry technologies improve.


About the Partnership
Ginkgo’s 14MM investment in Glycosyn will include a mix of cash investment and foundry access. This investment in a specialty business is a milestone in Ginkgo’s development as a platform, empowering companies like Glycosyn to build their products more efficiently, sustainably, and at scale.

About Ginkgo Bioworks
Ginkgo Bioworks is the organism company, using the power of biology to build sustainable products in food, pharma, manufacturing, and more. Using sophisticated software and state of the art automation, Ginkgo’s powerful platform for genetic engineering is making biology easier to engineer, enabling new products to be renewably manufactured with biology. For more information, visit

About Glycosyn
Glycosyn LLC is a biotechnology-based therapeutics, diagnostics and dietary supplement company, whose mission is to enhance health through genetic engineering. Glycosyn develops efficient and cost effective technologies for synthesizing and producing Human Milk Oligosaccharides (hMOS), major health-giving components of human milk. Glycosyn owns exclusive rights for the use of hMOS in treating Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and for the use of hMOS as prebiotics, with other patents in process. Glycosyn Health Initiatives (GHI) is a non-profit dedicated to bringing the benefits of hMOS to those who need them most in the developing world.