Evonetix Awarded Innovate UK Funding for £1.3 Million ($1.75M) Gene Synthesis Project
Dr Tim Brears, CEO, Evonetix
EVONETIX LTD , the Cambridge-based company pioneering an innovative approach to enable scalable and high-fidelity gene synthesis, announced today that it had been awarded substantial funding to support the development of a novel enzymatic approach to DNA synthesis. Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, will co-fund the £1.3 million project, which will be undertaken in collaboration with Durham University.
Evonetix is revolutionising gene synthesis with the aim of producing DNA at scale to facilitate many applications in the rapidly growing field of synthetic biology, from the development of novel pharmaceuticals, to industrial biotech, renewable fuels and agriculture. Evonetix’s novel silicon array, combined with its unique synergistic thermal control chemistry and process of error detection throughout assembly, permits massive parallelism in de novo DNA synthesis, enabling high-throughput on-chip assembly of high-fidelity gene-length DNA at scale. As part of the Innovate UK co-funded project, Evonetix will develop a novel enzymatic approach to gene synthesis and integrate it into its proprietary, thermally addressable silicon array.
The research will be directed by Dr Raquel Sanches-Kuiper, Director of Biology at Evonetix, whose group will develop engineered enzymes that are able to efficiently incorporate modified nucleotides. The group of Dr David Hodgson, Associate Professor of Chemistry at Durham University, will develop the modified nucleotides for enzymatic synthesis in Evonetix’s silicon array.
Dr Tim Brears, CEO at Evonetix, said: “The funding from Innovate UK will enable us to expand our approach to include enzymatic gene synthesis and will be vital in bringing this project to a successful outcome. The extension of our platform’s capabilities will be of great value as we seek to address the needs of the rapidly growing synthetic biology market, which is estimated to reach $40 billion by the mid-2020s.”
Dr Raquel Sanches-Kuiper, Director of Biology at Evonetix, said: “We believe the use of enzymatic oligonucleotide synthesis, which operates under milder aqueous conditions compared to phosphoramidite chemistry, will provide a significant commercial advantage and offer a highly valuable tool for de novo gene synthesis with our platform. It will achieve this by being more environmentally friendly and by further streamlining the industrialisation of high-fidelity DNA synthesis.
The team at Durham’s Department of Chemistry has many years of experience in nucleotide chemistry and will complement our expertise in protein engineering, DNA synthesis and assembly.”
As genome editing technologies advance toward clinical therapies, they are raising hopes of a completely new way to treat disease. However, challenges need to be addressed before potential treatments can be widely used in patients. To tackle these challenges, the National Institutes of Health has launched the Somatic Cell Genome Editing program, which has awarded multiple grants including more than $3.6 million to assess the safety of genome editing in human cells and tissues.