DNA2.0 Secures NSF Grant To Extend Gene Optimization Algorithms To Mammalian Protein Production

Menlo Park, CA
Wednesday, February 23, 2011

DNA2.0, the leading gene synthesis and protein engineering company, has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to further the company’s research into gene optimization algorithms for protein expression, this time in mammalian cells. The grant "administered through the Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR)" will enable DNA2.0 to extend the company’s proven gene optimization technology to production hosts for human therapeutics.

The development of recombinant DNA technologies in the late ’70s launched the biotechnology industry by enabling the production of valuable therapeutic proteins in mammalian cell lines. Despite the early successes of biotechnology, protein expression of recombinant genes remains a key limiting step. The cost of manufacturing protein pharmaceuticals in mammalian cells can be substantial ($1,000-10,000 per gram), and in the face of the expiration of many of the key patents for protein pharmaceuticals, reducing costs is increasingly important for the protein pharmaceutical industry. DNA2.0 intends to use the NSF/SBIR grant funding to apply the gene optimization technology already developed by DNA2.0 for unicellular organisms (E. coli, yeast, etc.) to mammalian production systems.

"By applying experimental design methods borrowed from other engineering disciplines, we can enable automated gene design that ensures consistent high-protein expression in your host of choice," said Mark Welch, PhD., Director of Gene Design for DNA2.0. "Mammalian cells are often critical for the production of fully functional mammalian proteins, which account for the majority of high-value protein therapeutics and therapeutic targets. Poor expression yield is often a barrier to the study and production of such proteins."

Efficient gene synthesis technology allows the complete redesign of any gene to meet new engineering requirements. DNA2.0 is using its expertise in machine learning algorithms to identify the critical variables of gene design and their impact on protein expression. A multivariate array of genes are synthesized in DNA2.0’s state-of-the-art gene manufacturing facility in Menlo Park, Calif. and then tested and quantified for protein expression. The resulting mega-dimensional sequence-expression landscape is modeled, and a resulting algorithm describing and quantifying the relevant design variables are utilized to create highly-expressive proteins.

"What our customers need is reliable expression. By cracking the code on gene optimization for protein expression, DNA2.0 can design genes for that are guaranteed for high expression yields," said Jeremy Minshull, PhD., CEO of DNA2.0. "This NSF grant validates the breakthrough research that DNA2.0 has already generated and solidifies our industry-leading position on the forefront of research into gene design."


About DNA2.0, Inc.

Founded in 2003, DNA2.0 is the leading gene synthesis and protein engineering 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.