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5 April, 2017 - 11:05 By Kate Sweeney

Alliance could create nextgen antibiotics

Tim Fell of Synthace with Richard Hammond of Cambridge Consultants

A new engineering biology alliance could deliver truly personalised ‘precision’ medicine and the next generation of antibiotics.

Product design & development firm Cambridge Consultants and London software company Synthace are bidding to unlock the full potential of biology to address many of the global challenges facing the medical world through adoption of a powerful new platform for the engineering of biological systems.

The platform – called Antha – has been developed by Synthace and is a programming language and operating system for engineering biology. It allows more automated ways of working and opens the door to widespread adoption and implementation of engineering practices in the biotechnology industry.

As well as medical breakthroughs, this could also unlock a whole host of novel applications in areas such as consumer products.

Tim Fell, CEO of Synthace, said: “Our goal is to help remove some of the manual, and often painstaking, work that scientists undertake in experimentation – and use software and processes which can exponentially accelerate bioscience. Combining our expertise with that of Cambridge Consultants will hopefully speed up the adoption of Antha and demonstrate our commitment to making engineering biology a widespread reality.”

The partnership will create a ‘one-stop shop’ for clients to ensure they get the most out of Antha. Cambridge Consultants will provide consultancy services to help with effective implementation of Antha in labs – including process development, protocol development, automation integration and custom equipment development. 

Synthace will provide the core ‘platform as a service’, maintaining Antha and managing the cloud-hosted infrastructure.

Cambridge Consultants will use Antha to run its in-house synthetic biology lab. Richard Hammond, head of synthetic biology at Cambridge Consultants, said: “We’re delighted to partner with Synthace and lead the global proliferation of synthetic biology together, while boosting the ever-growing UK scene.

“We’re also very excited to be using Antha in our own lab to plan and manage our wetware development and show the power of this approach.”

The Antha software enables labs to define, link and execute biological experimental and analysis protocols. Using the programming language, each in-lab process is fully and unambiguously defined and can be linked to other processes to form sophisticated workflows – including decision-based and recursive workflows. These systems can then be executed using automated equipment.

The UK is a strong player in the rapidly evolving synthetic biology community – number one in Europe and second globally only to the US.

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Tim Fell, CEO of Synthace with Richard Hammond of Cambridge Consultants

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