– Enzymatic synthesis to replace cumbersome chemical synthesis technology that requires hazardous chemicals and extensive post-synthesis processing
– Molecular Assemblies to receive up to $6.5 million as part of larger, up to $41 million project
-Rapidly scalable and deployable mobile platform could increase speed at which new medical countermeasure, such as COVID-19 vaccines, could be deployed in response to a pandemic
SAN DIEGO, March 2, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Molecular Assemblies, Inc., a pioneer in the field of enzymatic DNA synthesis, today announced the company’s participation in a new project with a multidisciplinary team, led by GE Research, to enable the production of DNA- and/or RNA-based vaccines and therapeutics, anywhere in the world in just days. The project is part of a new program from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) called NOW (Nucleic Acids On-Demand Worldwide). As part of the project, Molecular Assemblies will receive up to $6.5 million and contribute the company’s proprietary enzymatic DNA synthesis technology, which uses aqueous, non-toxic reagents and is designed to deliver on-demand highly-pure, sequence-specific DNA.
DARPA’s NOW program, managed by Dr. Amy Jenkins in the Biological Technologies Office, was created to develop a rapid, mobile medical manufacturing platform for producing, formulating, and packaging DNA- and/or RNA-based vaccines and therapeutics for use in stabilization and humanitarian operations and to better prepare deployed field-forward forces against bio-threat attacks and emerging infectious diseases.
“The speed and success of nucleic acid vaccines in combating COVID-19 have been truly amazing, and we have an exceptional opportunity and responsibility to make our medical countermeasures for pandemic response faster and more accessible,” said Michael J. Kamdar, President and CEO of Molecular Assemblies. “Our enzymatic DNA synthesis technology is an exceptional fit for on-demand manufacturing of DNA/RNA vaccines and therapeutics because it is designed to deliver higher purity, uses non-toxic reagents, and minimizes purification and processing.”
The four-decade-old method for chemically synthesizing DNA and RNA is inherently limited to short DNA sequences, requires extensive post-synthesis processing, and uses hazardous chemicals. Scientists at Molecular Assemblies have pioneered a novel, two-step enzymatic DNA synthesis method. This proprietary, template-free process can scale to longer DNA sequences, uses aqueous reagents, and requires minimal post-synthesis purification and processing. Molecular Assemblies’ enzymatic nucleic acid synthesis approach is designed to reliably, affordably, and sustainably produce long, high quality DNA, which could then be converted to RNA, optimized for biomedical applications.
The GE team, comprised of Dr. John Nelson and his colleagues, Wes Griffin, Ph.D., Erik Kvam, Ph.D., and Brian Davis, Ph.D., represents a highly multidisciplinary group with deep expertise in chemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, fluidic handling, engineering, automation, and quality control to simplify the production of DNA therapies. Dr. Nelson said, “Together with our project partners, we bring all of the elements required to design this mobile manufacturing platform.”
GE’s project, called RUN FAST (Rapid Universal Nucleic Acids using Fieldable Automated Synthesis Technology), will leverage the expertise of the GE Research team, led by Dr. Nelson, to build automated systems in the biological production of medicines and therapies with a novel synthetic method for making DNA and RNA to assemble a complete mobile medical manufacturing platform. For more on GE’s project, see their press release here.
About GE Research
GE Research is GE’s innovation powerhouse where research meets reality. We are a world-class team of scientific, engineering, and marketing minds working at the intersection of physics and markets, physical and digital technologies, and across a broad set of industries to deliver world-changing innovations and capabilities for our customers. To learn more, visit our website at https://www.ge.com/research/.
About Molecular Assemblies
Molecular Assemblies, Inc. is a private biotech company developing an enzymatic DNA synthesis technology designed to power the next generation of DNA-based products. The company’s patented enzymatic method, based on making DNA the way nature makes DNA, produces long, high quality, sequence-specific DNA reliably, affordably, and sustainably. Molecular Assemblies’ technology will enable the reading and writing of DNA for industries, including industrial synthetic biology and precision medicine, as well as emerging applications