Press Releases

Biobot Analytics Demonstrates the Utility of Wastewater Sequencing As a Powerful Tool in the Fight Against COVID-19 Variants

September 9, 2021

Cambridge, Mass. – September 9th, 2021 – Biobot Analytics, in collaboration with Ginkgo Bioworks, today announced a successful campaign to sequence over 2,000 wastewater samples across all 50 states for SARS-CoV-2. This groundbreaking research and development effort, initiated as a part of the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) national wastewater-based disease monitoring program, represents the largest wastewater sequencing effort ever undertaken in the United States. 

Biobot initiated its collaborative sequencing effort in May 2021 in order to better understand, measure, and track the spread of COVID-19 variants across the country, knowing that wastewater-based epidemiology (“WBE”) can also be used as a tool to complement genomic epidemiology. 

In addition to working with Ginkgo Bioworks, Biobot has partnered with Illumina, Twist Bioscience, and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard on a number of R&D initiatives to refine the methods and reliability of wastewater sequencing for SARS-CoV-2.

Leaders at each organization involved in the effort recognize the potential of what wastewater sequencing can offer the country: 

“Wastewater sequencing data presents an exciting opportunity to proactively track variants of concern in our communities.” said Mariana Matus, CEO and Cofounder of Biobot Analytics. “We’re encouraged by the initial results we’re seeing in this emerging area of research”.

“Illumina is dedicated to contributing to a coordinated approach to help better manage infectious disease and pathogen surveillance,” said Gary Schroth, Vice President and Distinguished Scientist at Illumina. “Leveraging our whole genome pathogen sequencing technology to help develop this type of early-warning system is key in arming public health experts with a true reflection of community infection rates; viral changes and impact to vaccine efficacy. We’re proud to take part in the effort to develop pathogen surveillance strategies.”

“Wastewater-based epidemiology is a critical modality for tracking infectious disease, and creating the infrastructure to sequence these samples offers communities and public health experts another tool in the fight against this pandemic and future illness” said Matthew McKnight of Concentric by Ginkgo.

Biobot plans to continue these collaborative efforts with the goal of generating actionable and timely variant data for public health officials and other decision-makers.

About Biobot Analytics

Biobot Analytics is a wastewater analytics firm and a global leader in wastewater epidemiology led by Mariana Matus, Ph.D., the company’s CEO and Cofounder, and Newsha Ghaeli, President and Cofounder. Biobot uses the data present in wastewater to learn valuable insights that shape the health of communities. Biobot is headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., and is serving states and localities nationwide. More information on our mission and technology is available at our website, www.biobot.io.

About Ginkgo Bioworks

Ginkgo is building a platform to enable customers to program cells as easily as we can program computers. The company’s platform is enabling biotechnology applications across diverse markets, from food and agriculture to industrial chemicals to pharmaceuticals. Ginkgo has also actively supported a number of COVID-19 response efforts, including K-12 pooled testing, vaccine manufacturing optimization and therapeutics discovery. For more information, visit www.ginkgobioworks.com.