DNA2.0 Partners With St. George’s Infection And Immunity Research Centre On Biopharmaceutical Production In Plants

Menlo Park, CA
Thursday, December 19, 2013

St. George’s to Utilize DNA2.0’s GeneGPS Expression Technology to Increase Protein Expression in Tobacco for the Production of Therapeutic Antibodies

DNA2.0 has entered into a research collaboration with the Infection and Immunity Research Centre at St. George’s, University of London, to support the development of plant-based biopharmaceuticals.

Professor Julian Ma and his research group at St. George’s have made significant progress in the use of the tobacco plant to produce antibodies and are currently carrying out human trials of a tobacco-produced monoclonal antibody to prevent HIV infection.

DNA2.0’s GeneGPS gene optimization technology will serve as a basis to identify and quantify the variables affecting protein expression in tobacco in order to enable commercial production yield of the antibodies.

While recombinant proteins such as antibodies have traditionally been made in E. coli, yeast or mammalian cells, the production process for these host cell lines is expensive, as it requires extensive processing and purification.  In contrast, agricultural production is cheap and easily scalable. Professor Ma’s idea is that plant-based drugs could eventually be very affordable to grow and harvest in the developing world. Ma has chosen tobacco for his research because it is already grown all over the world and does not compete with food production.

“DNA2.0 is very excited to partner with Professor Ma and his research group because we believe his approach to developing antibodies in plant systems will have a dramatic impact on the affordability and availability of life-saving biopharmaceuticals,” said Jeremy Minshull, PhD., cofounder and CEO of DNA2.0. “DNA2.0’s GeneGPS technology has been proven to increase protein expression up to 100-fold in multiple expression systems, and we are confident that our data-centric approach to expression optimization will be successful in tobacco.”

Proteins are often difficult to express outside their original host. Different gene sequences encoding the same protein can express at very different levels. Altering the coding sequence to increase protein expression is highly cost effective, providing the recoding is done correctly according to scientifically researched algorithms. Contrary to common belief, recoding genes to encode abundant codons does not correlate with protein yield; however, recoding genes to encode variables identified through heuristic screening can drastically improve expression yield of functional proteins. DNA2.0’s patented GeneGPS technology has been proven to increase recombinant protein production by orders of magnitude in biological systems such as E. coli, Mammalian cell lines, Pichia pastoris and others.

“High protein expression yield is essential to our ability to deliver therapeutic levels of a protein in a manner that is cost effective,” said Professor Julian Ma. “This is even more essential when working with a plant like tobacco, and we anticipate very positive results from the pairing of our lab’s plant expression experience with DNA2.0’s well-documented approach to increasing expression with GeneGPS.”

About the Infection and Immunity Research Centre, St. George’s, University of London

The centre’s research is in Infection and Immunity and aims to discover new knowledge and treatments for some of the world’s most devastating infectious diseases and pathogens including HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium difficile.

About St. George’s, University of London

St George’s, University of London, is the UK’s only independent medical and healthcare higher education institution. St George’s is a modern, innovative academic and research organisation built upon a rich history stretching back 250 years. Alumni include John Hunter, known as the father of modern surgery, and Edward Jenner, creator of the first vaccine, used to eradicate smallpox.

The University aims to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease in areas including infection and immunity, heart disease and stroke, and cell signalling.

About DNA2.0

DNA2.0 is the leading bioengineering solutions provider. Founded in 2003, DNA2.0 offers an integrated pipeline of solutions for the research community, including gene design, optimization, synthesis and cloning, as well as platforms for protein and strain engineering. 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 is by far the most published synthetic gene vendor, providing expert support to and collaboration with scientists. DNA2.0 explores novel applications for synthetic genes and is exploiting the synergy between highly efficient gene design and synthesis processes and new protein optimization technologies. DNA2.0’s tools and solutions are fueling the transformation of biology from a discovery science to an engineering discipline. The company is privately held and is headquartered in Menlo Park, Calif. For more information, please visit www.DNA20.com