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Synthetic DNA Company Raises $24M in Early Funds

DNA illustration

(Nogas1974, Wikimedia Commons)

15 Apr. 2021. A company with a technology it says is simpler and more like natural processes to produce synthetic DNA is raising $24 million in its first venture round. Molecular Assemblies Inc. in San Diego says it produces synthetic nucleic acids with fewer steps, non-toxic enzymes, and at a lower cost than most current processes.

Molecular Assemblies aims to provide synthetic DNA on demand as a raw material for biotechnology solutions in the life sciences and industry. The company says it uses a water-based technology to produce synthetic DNA with non-toxic enzymes more like natural processes, which means a more sustainable technique with less toxic waste. Molecular Assemblies claims its simpler process requires fewer post-processing steps which means a lower cost of production. And the company says it can produce longer strands of synthetic DNA than most other current methods.

While the company’s first markets are in the life sciences, Molecular Assemblies envisions other markets for synthetic DNA with industrial chemicals, in biofuels, agricultural applications, and bio-based materials like synthetic leather and spider silk. The company also believes synthetic DNA can advance emerging hybrid bio-electronic chips that program genetic outcomes with integrated circuits using DNA.

Producing vaccines and therapies on demand

A more immediate need, however, is storing exploding volumes of computer data. Advances in informatics, such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of things, and autonomous vehicles, are expected to create massive data volumes that stretch current data storage facilities like conventional data centers beyond their limits. As reported by Science & Enterprise in November 2020, Molecular Assemblies is taking part in the DNA Data Storage Alliance, an industry coalition to advance DNA as a data storage medium.

While the company was founded in 2013, its business activity accelerated in the past 12 months. In June 2020, Molecular Assemblies began a collaboration with synthetic protein company Codexis in Redwood City, California to produce engineered enzymes for synthetic DNA. Codexis is also an investor in Molecular Assemblies’ first venture round. In March of this year, Molecular Assemblies joined with GE Research in a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa, program to produce synthetic nucleic acids for producing DNA-and RNA-based vaccines and therapies on demand.

“We have made significant progress in advancing our proprietary enzymatic DNA synthesis technology,” says Molecular Assemblies CEO Michael Kamdar in a company statement. “Over the past year, we’ve entered into a transformative partnership with Codexis and joined a new project with GE Research to enable the production of nucleic acid-based vaccines and therapeutics, anywhere in the world.”

Molecular Assemblies is raising $24 million in its first venture funding round, with investments by Agilent Technologies, iSelect Fund, Codexis, Alexandria Venture Investments, Argonautic Ventures, and LYFE Capital. The company expects to apply the round’s proceeds to advancing its technology closer to commercial scale.

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