DNA2.0 Awarded US Patents For Breakthrough Gene Optimization Technology

Menlo Park, CA
Thursday, June 10, 2010

DNA2.0, the leading gene synthesis and protein engineering company, today announced that the U.S. Patent and Trade Office has awarded the company two patent applications covering DNA2.0’s breakthrough gene optimization technology. The patents—7,561,972 and 7,561,973 —claim methods for designing synthetic genes to reliably increase levels of recombinant protein expression. DNA2.0’s unique optimization algorithm enables the company to offer expression yields up to 50 times greater than competing approaches.

"These patents embody one of DNA2.0’s unique competitive advantages," said Jeremy Minshull, President at DNA2.0. "When customers come to us for synthetic genes, they want those genes to express.  The broad and fundamental claims in this patent, together with the absence of any related competing patents, speak to our leadership in designing genes for protein expression."

Expression of recombinant proteins is vitally important for modern biotechnology. Unfortunately, many proteins are difficult to express outside their original host and frequently hard to overexpress even within their native host. Optimizing a gene for expression by designing the most effective coding sequence is therefore essential.  Despite the high value of sequence design, most currently used algorithms are based on anecdotal evidence that is at best statistically insignificant.

"Despite the increasing availability of synthetic genes over the last decade, little was understood about the relationship between heterologous expression and gene design. Clearly, the prevailing hit-or-miss approaches are suboptimal," said Mark Welch, Director of Gene Design and co-inventor on the patent. "Instead, our technology empirically identifies gene characteristics that ensure reliable, high protein expression in any host system.  We are grateful to the National Science Foundation for funding the three-year study that has allowed us to elucidate the rules on which our patents and algorithms are based."

The NSF-supported study involved synthesis of sets of genes and analysis of their expression in E coli.  From this work, Dr. Welch was able to derive a set of sequence properties that correlate highly with good expression.  New genes designed using these properties expressed well, confirming the validity of the algorithms.  The claims in application 12/184,240 broadly cover the use of this successful and powerful approach to optimize sequences for expression in any organism.

"Our overarching gene design technology is far more effective than traditional codon optimization techniques that simply use codon biases of native genes," said Claes Gustafsson, VP of Sales and Marketing and co-inventor on the patents. "DNA2.0 is currently working with partners to apply our patented technology to a wide range of organisms to increase expression yields and to discover a wider range of applications for optimized genes."

One of the rules that has emerged from Dr Welch's work is that constraining the incorporation of certain codons in a gene to a frequency range rather than a single frequency value can be of substantial benefit.  Application 12/184,234 claims the use of codon frequency ranges in gene design, providing further broad protection of DNA2.0's industry-leading gene optimization technologies.

Together with the recently released pJexpress E coli expression vectors, DNA2.0’s patented codon optimization technology offers the most integrated and efficient path from virtual sequence to expressed protein. While many other gene synthesis companies offshore manufacturing to areas of the world with lax IP protection, all DNA2.0 genes are made at the company's state-of-the-art facility in Menlo Park, thus ensuring the greatest security for patented or confidential sequences. DNA2.0 guarantees researchers high quality synthetic genes, delivered on time, every time.


About DNA2.0:

Founded in 2003, DNA2.0 is the leading synthetic biology company. It is the fastest provider of synthetic genes, based in the US with a global customer base encompassing academia, government and the pharmaceutical, chemical, agricultural and biotechnology industries. DNA2.0 has provided genes to thousands of customers, for whom it has synthesized many millions of base pairs. DNA2.0 explores novel applications for synthetic genes and is exploiting the synergy between highly efficient gene synthesis process and new protein optimization technologies. The tools and applications brought to market by DNA2.0 are transforming biology into an engineering discipline. The company is privately held and is headquartered in Menlo Park, Calif.

For more information, please visit www.DNA20.com or email Claes Gustafsson, VP Sales cgustafsson@DNA20.com.