Agilent, Merck and Danaher Invest $89 Million in Benchtop DNA Printer Technology
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DNA Script has announced a $50 million extension to its Series B financing, bringing the total investment of this round to $89 million. This oversubscribed round is led by Casdin Capital and joined by Danaher Life Sciences, Agilent Technologies, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, through its corporate venture arm, M Ventures, LSP, the Bpifrance Large Venture Fund and Illumina Ventures. Eli Casdin, Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Casdin Capital, will join DNA Script’s Board of Directors.
“DNA Script has established itself as an early leader in the development of enzymatic synthesis,” said Eli Casdin, Chief Investment Officer and Managing Partner of Casdin Capital. “Enzymatic DNA synthesis can enable the production of much longer strands of DNA at faster speeds without the need for environmentally harmful solvents, such that the commercial introduction of this technology will be a much-needed catalyst for applications across biology — from accelerating diagnostic and drug development to advancing precision medicine to enabling the development of DNA data storage systems and the bioengineering of new materials.”
Funding from this investment round will enable DNA Script to accelerate the development of its suite of enzymatic DNA synthesis (EDS) technologies, in particular, to support the commercial launch of the company’s SYNTAX™ DNA benchtop printer.
“The SYNTAX™ EDS system was inspired by the wide availability of in-lab and benchtop next-generation sequencing systems and the impact they have had on genomics research and personalized medicine,” said Thomas Ybert, CEO and Co-founder of DNA Script. “This first-of-its-kind DNA printer makes writing DNA as simple and straightforward as reading DNA is currently, meaning that research and clinical labs will be able to do same-day synthesis of oligonucleotides, saving precious time when it comes to iterating experiments or developing diagnostic or confirmatory tools.”
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, laboratories all around the world have experienced the importance of controlling their supply of synthetic DNA as a critical reagent, in several cases turning to DNA Script to support their efforts to develop diagnostic tests. The current global pandemic has made clear the value of in-lab tools like the SYNTAX system to enable quick research iteration without relying on centralized distributors that can be hampered by capacity and shipping bottlenecks.
“The quality of the functional DNA being produced by DNA Script has impressed the Agilent team,” said Sam Raha, President of Agilent’s Diagnostics and Genomics Group. “In addition, DNA Script’s vision of a future — with manufacturing platforms focused on enzymatic synthesis of high-fidelity nucleic acids of world-class length — is a vision that holds great promise to transform the molecular and synthetic biology solutions market.”
DNA Script will soon begin testing the SYNTAX system with a select group of partners, with plans to launch a beta testing program later this year and take orders for the DNA printer by next year. Over the long term, funding from the Series B financing will enable DNA Script to further develop the company’s core enzymatic synthesis technology – in particular, towards the development of new synthesis platforms – as well as to ramp up its commercial and manufacturing capabilities.
In addition to launching the SYNTAX system, DNA Script is working on the development of deployable DNA data storage and retrieval technology as part of the Molecular Encoding Consortium, along with partners at the Broad Institute and Harvard University – a project funded by a $23 million grant from the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity’s Molecular Information Storage program.