Molecular Assemblies Awarded NIH Phase I SBIR Grant to Develop a Fully Enzymatic DNA Synthesis Process to Propel Synthetic Biology

SAN DIEGO, October 19, 2021 — Molecular Assemblies, Inc., today announced that it has been awarded a $250,000 Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant (Award No. R43HG011679) from the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). The grant supports Molecular Assemblies’ development of a fully enzymatic synthesis cycle for a complete workflow for DNA synthesis, with commercial potential for implementation as a replacement for chemical DNA manufacturing.

DNA synthesis has revolutionized the field of synthetic biology, leading to new therapeutics, bio-based fuels and chemicals, and materials. However, the current, three-decade-old method for chemically synthesizing DNA is inherently limited to relatively short DNA sequences, requires extensive post-synthesis processing, and uses hazardous chemicals. While enzymatic synthesis holds the potential to create long, highly pure DNA, most approaches still rely on chemical steps, which can degrade the DNA product and ultimately limit the commercial potential.

“Synthetic biology has outpaced chemical DNA synthesis technology with research and applications being limited by cost and length of synthesized DNA,” said J. William Efcavitch, Ph.D., Cofounder and Chief Scientific Officer of Molecular Assemblies. “A fully enzymatic DNA synthesis platform has the potential to deliver long, highly pure DNA to drive innovation in many industries, especially life sciences, DNA-based data storage, and advanced agricultural and industrial products.”

Scientists at Molecular Assemblies have pioneered a two-step enzymatic DNA synthesis process that can deliver highly pure, sequence-specific DNA on demand, without a template, and can scale to longer DNA sequences. This proprietary process uses aqueous, non-toxic reagents and requires minimal post-synthesis purification and processing. This grant will further Molecular Assemblies’ process by developing three key enzymatic steps: 1) proprietary polymerase incorporation of 3′-O-blocked nucleotides, 2) an enzymatic deblocking step to remove the blocking group from the 3′-hydroxyl, and 3) a novel enzymatic clean-up to deplete unreacted material.

“With this recognition and funding from NIH and NHGRI, we believe we can create and commercialize a fully enzymatic DNA synthesis that can overcome the significant limitations of phosphoramidite chemistry and enable the cost-effective production of ever-lengthening strands of DNA,” said Michael J. Kamdar, President and CEO of Molecular Assemblies.

The contents of this press release are solely the responsibility of the author and not necessarily the official views of the NIH.

About Molecular Assemblies

Molecular Assemblies, Inc. is a private life sciences 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 of DNA for data information storage, nanomachines, and bio-based electronics. Molecular Assemblies is headquartered in San Diego.

Media Contact:

Jessica Yingling, Ph.D., Little Dog Communications Inc.,, +1.858.344.8091