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Synthetic Biology Expands Its Tool Kit

June 7, 2016
Blogging on today’s Synthetic Biology “Tools of the Trade” session at the BIO International Convention is a little bit like competing in the All-England Summarize Proust Competition. But here goes.

The synthetic biology field is predicated on the design, build, test, learn cycle. And each of the companies in today’s session has developed a new tool within that cycle.

Transcriptic, for instance, has developed a tool that enables reproducible experiments by automating the build function and feeding large amounts of data into the learning. As described by founder and CEO Max Hodak, Transcriptic’s data-driven approach to contract research allows companies to standardize the inputs and outputs of gene design through a web-based platform.

enEvolv has developed tools in the build and test functions. Jay Konieczka, the company’s COO, discussed enEvolv’s platform for strain engineering, which rapidly creates gene variations and selects those with target activity through computation. enEvolv adds target sensors to every cell it produces to test for the target pathway or activity, allowing greater process scalability.

Twist Bioscience CEO Emily Leproust presented the company’s silicon wafer technology that enables nanoscale DNA synthesis, generating a multifold scale up of gene synthesis at lower cost. Twist’s technology promises to allow larger scale, reduced costs, and reduced time in the build function.

Todd Peterson, CTO of Synthetic Genomics, described his company’s pioneering business, which spans the entire cycle. His company’s business model focuses on bioinformatics as an enabler of cell optimization, advanced engineering, and discovery.

And finally, David Venables, CEO of Synpromics, described his company’s focus on the role of synthesized gene promoters as a tool for designing new metabolic pathways and gene expressions.