Enzymatic DNA printer will speed R&D and COVID testing, says DNA Script

DNA Script has launched a benchtop nucleic acid printer it claims will accelerate molecular biology, genomic research, and even COVID-19 testing.

The Paris, France firm unveiled Syntax this month, describing it as a fully integrated, automated printer that is able to synthesize 96 DNA oligonucleotides in parallel, comprised of up to 60 nucleotides in length.

The technology uses enzymes to synthesize the DNA molecules which – unlike traditional phosphoramidite chemistry based approaches – accelerates and optimizes production and eliminates the need for organic solvents.

Image c/o DNA Script

In addition to a benchtop printer, the system includes reagent and consumable kits as well as management software.

According to DNA Script, the technology is able to produce 20 mers – molecules comprising 20 nucleotides – in about six hours and 60 mers in about 13 hours.

DNA Script co-founder and COO Sylvain Gariel told us the ability to make DNA molecules rapidly and accurately will be welcomed by the drug industry.

“For protein-based drugs (in particular antibodies), synthetic DNA is used as a blueprint to design and express the protein of interest. Getting to the perfect structure requires multiple design build test iterations that we believe will benefit from shorter lead times and improved quality.

“For nucleic acid-based drugs or vaccines, cell and gene therapies, cancer vaccines, therapeutic oligonucleotides, synthetic nucleic acids are a critical part of the product and our solution will help manufacture it.”

Gariel added, “We are particularly focused on use cases where the drug or vaccine is personalized for each patient, which leads to huge manufacturing challenges as operations scale, but we believe our Syntax System platform will be helpful in making this personalization possible.”

Partnerships

In April, DNA Script announced a partnership with Moderna to develop a prototype for rapid mobile manufacturing of mRNA vaccines and therapeutics as part of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Nucleic Acids On-Demand World-Wide (NOW) program

Gariel told us “Our scope is focused on optimizing our Syntax System using EDS technology for this application, in particular its biochemistry performance in gene synthesis use cases.”

A month earlier DNA Script was selected for a separate project by GE Research to develop a field deployable instrument able to manufacture DNA or mRNA vaccines against emerging biothreats.

Gariel said, “GE leads the second consortium selected by the US Department of Defense’s DARPA NOW program. DNA Script is unique in being chosen by both Moderna and GE Research, competing, organizations awarded the DARPA grant.”

The launch comes less than a year after DNA Script secured a $50 million extension to its Series B financing.

The backing come from Casdin Capital, Danaher Life Sciences, Agilent Technologies and Merck KgaA through its M Ventures arm among others.