The first fully automated machine to convert digital code into functional biologics without human intervention creates entirely new avenues for precision medicine
SAN DIEGO, May 29, 2017 — Synthetic Genomics, Inc. announced today the publication of a peer reviewed article describing the development and operation of its digital-to-biological converter (DBC) prototype that produced biologic compounds on-demand without any human intervention. The DBC integrates many of the synthetic biology tools developed by Synthetic Genomics for creating high fidelity and complex synthetic DNA all in one fully automated unit.
The paper describing this work is the first peer-reviewed publication of its kind and was published online today in Nature Biotechnology by lead authors Kent S. Boles and Krishna Kannan, and senior authors J. Craig Venter and Daniel G. Gibson.
To demonstrate feasibility, researchers digitally transmitted a file with DNA sequence information to the DBC. The DBC converted that digital sequence into oligonucleotides, and utilized synthetic biology tools developed by Synthetic Genomics such as gene synthesis, error correction, and Gibson Assembly™ methods to create large and complex DNA constructs with high fidelity. Utilizing this DNA as a template, the DBC further produced a series of biological materials without any human intervention, such as RNA, proteins, and viral particles.
“The concept of a DBC presents a new paradigm for the manufacturing of biological materials all starting from transmitted DNA sequences,” said Daniel Gibson, Ph.D., vice president of DNA technology at Synthetic Genomics and senior author of the study. “It is easy to imagine numerous high value applications for rapid on-demand production of biological materials in healthcare, such as creating truly personalized therapeutics at a patient’s bedside and rapidly generating custom vaccines to counter an infectious disease outbreak.”
Biological products created on the DBC included DNA templates for an influenza vaccine, an RNA-based vaccine, antibody polypeptides, and a bacteriophage. The antibody polypeptides synthesized by the DBC included abatacept, ranibizumab, and trastuzumab. Biologics were created in under 2 days, which is several weeks faster than traditional biological manufacturing processes that require extended timelines and external vendors.
“The DBC is the first machine that can receive via the Internet or radio wave, digital biology in the form of DNA sequence enabling reconstitution of components of living systems,” said J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., co-founder, chairman, co-chief scientific officer of Synthetic Genomics. “We are excited by the commercial prospects of this revolutionary tool as we believe the DBC represents a major leap forward in advancing new vaccines and biologics.”
The DBC contains several components in common with the BioXp™ 3200, the world’s first instrument for printing and cloning double stranded DNA. Capabilities on the DBC that are not yet available as integrated components on the BioXp include the conversion of digital code to DNA oligonucleotides using more basic chemical inputs, and the synthesis of proteins from DNA constructs. The BioXp™ 3200 is currently available through Synthetic Genomics’ subsidiary, SGI-DNA, to improve the workflow for applications such as molecular cloning, protein production, antibody library generation, and cell engineering.
Synthetic Genomics is continuing to develop the DBC platform for several commercial applications. Continued modifications include implementing new methods for more reliable production of large, error-free, synthetic DNA and reducing dimensions of the instrument to make it more robust and portable.
The other authors on this paper that have been integral to this work include John Gill, Martina Felderman, Heather Gouvis, Bolyn Hubby, and Kurt I. Kamrud.
The paper is available on the Nature Biotechnology website at http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nbt.3859.
SGI-DNA, a wholly owned subsidiary of Synthetic Genomics Inc., provides genomic solutions to advance scientific discovery. SGI-DNA’s ever expanding suite of products, services, reagents, bioinformatics tools and instrumentation enables scientists to discover, design and build novel solutions for basic research, as well as for biomedical and industrial applications. SGI-DNA’s genomic services include whole genome sequencing, DNA synthesis, library design, bioinformatics, cell engineering, and plasmid DNA cloning and purification. SGI-DNA’s reagents include a complete suite of Gibson Assembly® and Site Directed Mutagenesis kits as well as optimized cell lines such as Vmax™ a novel, fast growing host system for molecular biology. To further enable synthetic biology workflows, SGI-DNA offers the BioXp™ 3200 System. This fully automated genomics workstation allows the creation of double stranded DNA fragments, automated cloning, Next Generation Sequencing DNA library preparation and cGMP manufacturing of synthetic DNA for clinical trials. Building on scientific breakthroughs from J. Craig Venter, Hamilton Smith, Clyde Hutchison, Daniel Gibson and their teams, SGI-DNA is committed to reducing barriers associated with synthetic biology. More information is available at www.sgidna.com.
About Synthetic Genomics
Synthetic Genomics is programming the operating system of life to create sustainable solutions for humankind’s most pressing issues, from the wellbeing of our population to the health of our planet. With an unmatched understanding of how DNA drives the function of cells — the basic biological units of all living organisms — Synthetic Genomics modifies and writes genomes to enable transformative products in the areas of vaccines, medicines, nutrition, and biotechnology research. In addition to designing novel organisms that overcome fundamental hurdles of scientific research and medicine, Synthetic Genomics pursues partnerships with organizations seeking to dramatically improve upon existing products in energy, health care and other sectors. Continuing its legacy of scientific firsts in genomics and synthetic biology, Synthetic Genomics is harnessing the power of nature to improve quality of life. More information is available at www.syntheticgenomics.com.
Corporate Communications and Media
Jason Spark, Canale Communications