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31 October, 2019 - 21:59 By Kate Sweeney

Camena Bioscience unveils major DNA synthesis breakthrough

Synthetic biology company Camena Bioscience reports a significant breakthrough in DNA synthesis accuracy with the development of an innovative technology called gSynth™. 

With this pioneering enzymatic de novo synthesis and gene assembly method, gSynth is able to produce 300 nucleotide DNA molecules with an accuracy as high as 90 per cent, the Cambridge company claims.

It says this is a significant improvement in accuracy that will be fundamental for the development of synthetic biology applications and will help a wide range of markets from the pharmaceutical industry to agriculture.

The ability to produce synthetic DNA is essential for the investigation and engineering of new biological pathways. Phosphoramidite synthesis has been the gold-standard DNA synthesis method for many years, but over long stretches of DNA this method is error-prone. 

For DNA sequences 200 nucleotides long, with the best nucleotide coupling efficiencies, only 30-40 per cent of the material is the correct full-length sequence. 

Also, some sequences, such as stretches of one base (homopolymers), are particularly difficult to produce. These limitations are holding back the production of many DNA sequences and consequently new synthetic biology applications.

Recently there has been a drive to create novel enzymatic DNA synthesis technologies but, so far, such methods have provided no improvements in accuracy. 

For synthetic biologists, DNA synthesis accuracy is critical as any errors will affect downstream results. gSynth is an innovative enzymatic and modular assembly method that enables long and complex DNA molecules to be accurately produced. When tested against phosphoramidite synthesis, gSynth has proven far more accurate. 

Comparison of several 300 nucleotide fragments found that, on average, 22.7 per cent of phosphoramidite synthesised material was the correct full-length product. However, with gSynth, on average, 85.3 per cent of the material was correct. 

gSynth demonstrated the greatest improvement of accuracy with sequences containing homopolymers, which are notoriously difficult to produce with phosphoramidite synthesis. 

In this case just 12.5 per cent of phosphoramidite produced material was correct, compared to 89.2 per cent with gSynth.

“To date, DNA synthesis methods have fallen short of providing the accuracy that synthetic biologists need,” said Camena Bioscience CEO, Steve Harvey. “gSynth offers new technology with superior accuracy that will enable our customers to bring new synthetic biology applications to market.”

Camena Bioscience has offices in The Science Village at Chesterford Research Park in Cambridge as well as in California. 

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