DNA Script Joins GE Research Collaboration to Develop On-Demand Vaccines and Therapeutics in Response to Biothreats for DARPA NOW Project

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. and PARIS | March 2, 2021
  • DNA Script will receive up to $9.35 Million to leverage the company’s novel enzymatic DNA synthesis (EDS) technology for the project.
  • This is the second announced project1 where DNA Script has been selected to collaborate in deployable vaccine production platform.

DNA Script, a leading pioneer in enabling DNA synthesis on demand, today announced that the company has been selected by GE Research to join a collaboration to develop a rapid response, mobile medical manufacturing platform to enable on-demand production of nucleic acid-based vaccines and therapies. The $41-million, five-year project was awarded as part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Nucleic Acids On-Demand World-Wide (NOW) program. As part of the agreement, DNA Script will receive up to $9.35 million. 

The collaboration, which seeks to create a platform that can produce thousands of ready-to-use vaccine doses at sites of need in under three days, will employ DNA Script’s enzymatic DNA synthesis (EDS) platform to quickly generate high-fidelity nucleic acids to fuel GE’s industrial-scale nucleic acid amplification production capability. Building nucleic acids by traditional chemical synthesis requires the handling and ventilation of hazardous chemicals and environmental conditions not amenable to rapid response mobile manufacturing. DNA Script’s SYNTAX™ EDS system prints high-quality nucleic acids in a compact benchtop instrument without the need for toxic solvents or special conditions.

DARPA’s NOW program, managed by Dr. Amy Jenkins in the Biological Technologies Office, was created to develop a rapid, mobile, medical manufacturing platform. The resulting DNA- and/or RNA-based vaccines and therapeutics would be used to better prepare deployed forces against biothreat attacks and emerging infectious disease as well as used for humanitarian operations. Developing a platform such as this would enable the deployment of vaccines and therapeutics — like those developed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic — in just days rather than weeks or months.

“Having the ability to produce small batches of ready-to-use vaccines in a few days could prove transformative to beat back a pandemic and avoid the emergence of more dangerous variants,” said Thomas Ybert, Chief Executive Officer of DNA Script. “We are excited to collaborate with GE to employ the speed, efficiency and ease-of-use of our EDS technology to create a manufacturing platform that will enable much faster production and deployment of vaccines and ensure a much faster response to potential biothreats.”

1  As part of the early deployment of its technology and SYNTAX system, DNA Script also recently announced a partnership with the French Department of Defense to develop a rapid mobile manufacturing platform to enable the fast detection of emerging biothreats.

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