Here at the Advances in Genome Biology and Technology (AGBT) General Meeting, DNA Script, the global leader in the development of enzymatic DNA synthesis, today announced that it has successfully synthesized the world’s first 200-nucleotide (nt) strand of DNA by de novo enzymatic synthesis. This technological achievement builds on the company’s previous success with the enzymatic synthesis of both 50nt and 150nt strands of DNA.
To support DNA Script’s mission to commercialize the company’s enzymatic synthesis techniques and to support continued research and development, the company also today announced the formation of a Scientific Advisory Board with the appointment of two key advisers: Dr. Geoff Smith and Dr. Robert Nicol — with Dr. Smith serving as chair.
“Current chemical approaches are too limited to serve the growing demand for synthetic nucleic acids by the burgeoning life sciences industry. It’s no surprise that DNA Script is one of many organizations pursuing enzymatic synthesis, which has the potential to be faster, higher quality and cleaner than current commercial solutions done with the aid of phosphoramidite reagents,” said Thomas Ybert, CEO and cofounder of DNA Script. “Our success in achieving three successive length and purity milestones in less than a year is what sets apart DNA Script’s approach from the rest of the field.”
As the field of genomics accelerates, innovative genome editing technologies are driving advancements in life science research. The market for synthetic nucleic acids has expanded to over $1.5 billion per year globally, but the demand is not always met. For the past 50 years, synthetic DNA has been manufactured through a complex chemical process with limitations in terms of quality, turn-around time and manufacturing flexibility, with processes that are not environmentally sustainable. In contrast, DNA Script has developed a novel biochemical process for DNA and RNA synthesis based on the use of highly efficient enzymes. This technology mimics the way nature produces genetic code and enables enhanced performance while minimizing the use of harsh chemicals.
Dr. Geoff Smith joins DNA Script as Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board. Dr. Smith is a world expert in genomic technologies and their applications. He spent more than 10 years working at Solexa/Illumina, where he led the development of many aspects of the core SBS sequencing chemistry, workflows and platforms, becoming Vice President leading technology development globally and clinical product development for cell-free DNA testing in pregnancy (NIPT). After leaving Illumina, Dr. Smith was CEO of Cambridge Epigenetix, a spin-off from Cambridge University, and he now works as an advisor to a broad portfolio of companies in the genomics space.
Dr. Robert Nicol joins DNA Script as Scientific Advisor. Dr. Nicol is director of the Technology Labs at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Under Dr. Nicol’s guidance, the Technology Labs serve as an advanced R&D group within the institute, integrating capabilities in molecular biology, bioengineering, synthetic biology, microfluidics, bioinformatics and industrial process design to meet the needs of the Broad community. Dr. Nicol is also cofounder of the MIT–Broad Foundry for Synthetic Biology. Robert joined the Whitehead Institute/MIT Center for Genome Research in 2001 to apply industrial process design to genome sequencing and directed the Sequencing Operations and Technology Development groups at the Broad for over 12 years, designing and implementing multiple generations of high-throughput DNA sequencing processes.
Dr. Ybert continued, “The creation of a Scientific Advisory Board is an important step in the transition from research stage to development and manufacturing stage. We are very pleased to have Geoff and Rob join us as advisors. Their extensive experience and proven track record will help us follow an aggressive roadmap to turn the company’s technology into successful commercial products. Our first goal is for our enzymatic process to surpass the performance of the current gold standard in DNA synthesis, the phosphoramidite method. Then, we want to leverage our proprietary biochemistry to take the enzymatic approach to the next level. Geoff and Rob are amongst the best experts in the world to help us do that.”