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Synthetic DNA Start-Up Raises $13M in Early Funds

DNA puzzle

(Arek Socha, Pixabay)

12 September 2017. A company producing synthesized DNA for medical and other biotechnology applications is raising €11 million ($US 13 million) in its first venture funding round. DNA Script, based in Paris, is a three year-old enterprise with a technology the company says is simpler and more like natural processes than current DNA synthesis methods.

DNA Script produces synthetic nucleic acids, the building blocks in DNA and RNA, using more efficient enzymes than other methods, which the company says often employ harsh chemical solvents. The company claims its enzyme chemistry is simpler and faster, resulting in a higher quality output and at a more affordable cost. DNA from its process, says DNA Script, can produce longer strands with far fewer errors in a small fraction of the time compared to today’s techniques.

Among the near-term markets for the company are discovery of new biologic therapies, such as synthetic antibodies and for regenerative medicine, as well as medical diagnostics. The company is also targeting industrial biotechnology, such as biofuel and biomaterials development, and agricultural applications, including enhancement in plant crops to boost productivity and resist diseases or pests. Synthetic DNA, says CEO and co-founder Thomas Ybert in an interview earlier this year, could make possible printing customized DNA sequences, with expression of specific genes switched off as needed.

Also among the company’s target applications is data storage with DNA. The technology industry faces a chronic need for better long-term data storage methods, with current storage media soon expected to hit their physical limits. Synthetic DNA offers very high density, to molecular levels, and extreme durability with a 500-year half-life. In July 2016, Microsoft and University of Washington announced the ability to store some 200 megabytes of data on DNA strands, taking up barely a spot in a test tube.

The funding round is led by Illumina Ventures, a partner enterprise of genetic sequencing equipment maker Illumina. Joining in the financing are current investors Sofinnova Partners, Kurma Partners, and Idinvest Partners. DNA Script expects to use the proceeds of the round to refine and strengthen its enzymatic technology and nucleotide chemistry platform.

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