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Octarine Bio and Ginkgo Bioworks Announce Partnership to Produce Natural Colors

May 9, 2023

COPENHAGEN, Denmark and BOSTON, May 9, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Octarine Bio, a synthetic biology company developing new sustainable bio-based ingredients, and Ginkgo Bioworks (NYSE: DNA), which is building the leading platform for cell programming and biosecurity, today announced a multi-stage partnership focused on compounds in the tryptophan pathway, with the objective of engineering a strain for producing violacein and its derivatives, a naturally occurring bis-indole pigment with potent bioactive properties including anti-microbial, anti-oxidant, and UV protective properties. Although initially focused on violacein, the collaboration has the potential to expand to other tryptophan-derived compounds, each with their own unique applications. 

The vast majority of textiles are still produced with synthetic colors and dyes derived from fossil fuels, a practice that has been linked to negative effects to human health and the environment. According to the United National Environmental Program and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, fabric dyeing and treatment produces about 20% of worldwide wastewater. In Europe, textile consumption has the fourth highest impact on the environment and climate change; it has the third highest impact on water and land use, and the fifth highest impact on raw material use and greenhouse gas emissions, as reported by the European Environment Agency.

Synthetic biology offers a viable alternative to this practice by enabling the development of safer and more innovative colors and dyes, made through microbial fermentation. Octarine Bio's exceptional proficiency in enzymatic derivatization, which can enable improved production levels and superior properties of these colors, is a key part of Octarine's technology. Combined with Ginkgo Bioworks' expertise in strain engineering, a significant opportunity arises for Octarine to introduce new bioactive colors and dyes to the market that address the consumer desires for safer, healthier, and more sustainable alternatives.

"Natural colors and dyes constitute a significant and expanding market, especially given the heightened awareness from companies and the concerns of consumers about the harmful effects of conventional manufacturing processes," said Ena Cratsenburg, Chief Business Officer at Ginkgo Bioworks. "This is a robust opportunity to contribute to the sustainability of the fashion industry, and we are excited to be working with Octarine as we aim to produce a new class of safer, high-performing colors and dyes that will appeal to consumers and companies worldwide."

"We are thrilled to work with Ginkgo to improve the bio-based production process for our tryptophan program, focusing on a class of highly sought after natural colors and dyes in difficult to source color spectra," said Dr. Nethaji Gallage, Co-founder & CEO at Octarine. "We see tremendous potential to apply these natural pigments as bio-based dyes, one of the fastest growing categories in the global textile market, and look forward to leveraging the Ginkgo platform to accelerate its development."

About Ginkgo Bioworks

Ginkgo Bioworks is the leading horizontal platform for cell programming, providing flexible, end-to-end services that solve challenges for organizations across diverse markets, from food and agriculture to pharmaceuticals to industrial and specialty chemicals. Ginkgo's biosecurity and public health unit, Concentric by Ginkgo, is building global infrastructure for biosecurity to empower governments, communities, and public health leaders to prevent, detect, and respond to a wide variety of biological threats. For more information, visit and, read our blog, or follow us on social media channels such as Twitter (@Ginkgo and @ConcentricByGBW), Instagram (@GinkgoBioworks and @ConcentricByGinkgo), or LinkedIn.

About Octarine Bio
Octarine Bio, founded in 2018, is a Synthetic Biology platform company with a mission to transform and re-design products and processes with sustainable, bio-based, and innovative solutions that provide radical changes to the world's most pressing issues. With a core commitment to improving human and planetary health, we build synthetic biology platforms utilizing our core expertise in cell factory engineering, precision fermentation, and enzyme engineering to develop and produce superior bioactive ingredients beyond the reach of nature and modern chemistry. Octarine's core programs focus on bioactive tryptamines for a range of applications within human and planetary health. For more information, visit or follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Forward-Looking Statements of Ginkgo Bioworks

This press release contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws, including statements regarding the capabilities and potential success of the partnership and Ginkgo's cell programming platform. These forward-looking statements generally are identified by the words "believe," "can," "project," "potential," "expect," "anticipate," "estimate," "intend," "strategy," "future," "opportunity," "plan," "may," "should," "will," "would," "will be," "will continue," "will likely result," and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements are predictions, projections and other statements about future events that are based on current expectations and assumptions and, as a result, are subject to risks and uncertainties. Many factors could cause actual future events to differ materially from the forward-looking statements in this press release, including but not limited to: (i) volatility in the price of Ginkgo's securities due to a variety of factors, including changes in the competitive and highly regulated industries in which Ginkgo operates and plans to operate, variations in performance across competitors, and changes in laws and regulations affecting Ginkgo's business, (ii) the ability to implement business plans, forecasts, and other expectations, and to identify and realize additional business opportunities, (iii) the risk of downturns in demand for products using synthetic biology, (iv) the unpredictability of the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and the demand for COVID-19 testing and the commercial viability of our COVID-19 testing business, (v) changes to the biosecurity industry, including due to advancements in technology, emerging competition and evolution in industry demands, standards and regulations, (vi) our ability to realize the expected benefits of merger and acquisition transactions, (vii) the outcome of any legal proceedings against Ginkgo, including as a result of recent acquisitions, (viii) our ability to realize the expected benefits from and the success of our Foundry platform programs, (ix) our ability to successfully develop engineered cells, bioprocesses, data packages or other deliverables, and (x) the product development or commercialization success of our customers. The foregoing list of factors is not exhaustive. You should carefully consider the foregoing factors and the other risks and uncertainties described in the "Risk Factors" section of Ginkgo's annual report on Form 10-K filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC") on March 13, 2023 and other documents filed by Ginkgo from time to time with the SEC. These filings identify and address other important risks and uncertainties that could cause actual events and results to differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made. Readers are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking statements, and Ginkgo assumes no obligation and does not intend to update or revise these forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise. Ginkgo does not give any assurance that it will achieve its expectations.




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