Multi-year, multi-million dollar collaboration will develop new tools to rapidly accelerate the development of RNA-based products, catalyzing a new era in healthcare
DNA Script, a leader in Enzymatic DNA Synthesis (EDS) and DNA on demand, has inked a multi-million dollar, multi-year contract with Wellcome Leap to accelerate RNA products, including mRNA vaccines, and advance RNA therapies. Under Wellcome Leap’s RNA Response + Readiness (R3) program, DNA Script will work to develop a fully automated and deployable system to synthesize DNA templates for RNA production with a short turnaround time.
Wellcome Leap’s R3 program, jointly funded with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), seeks to increase the development and deployment of RNA-based biologic products as a standardized platform technology with reduced cost. In addition, the program aims to create a global network of state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities that can quickly transition, in times of emergency, to meet future pandemic needs at the local level.
RNA development relies on the ability to rapidly design and produce genetic material. DNA Script’s SYNTAX Platform, which employs Enzymatic DNA Synthesis (EDS), is a benchtop nucleic acid printer that quickly produces synthetic nucleic acid without requiring the specialized infrastructure and waste management processes that traditional systems and services using phosphoramidite chemistry rely on. The SYNTAX Platform eliminates the bottleneck between designing genetic material in silico and synthesizing actual genetic material to use.
“RNA has shown tremendous promise in both vaccine and therapy development, and we believe easy access to these molecules will accelerate therapeutics development and foster innovation and greater efficiencies, ” said DNA Script CEO and co-founder Thomas Ybert. “We anticipate the development of this system to be particularly useful for personalized medicine, for which a new sequence needs to be synthesized for each patient, or to locally develop variant-specific mRNA vaccines for pandemic response.”
R3’s specific project, Digital Sequence to RNA Unique Production Technologies (DiSRUPT), seeks to develop a fully-automated, easy-to-use platform to synthesize genetic material from digital sequences in a short period of time to vastly accelerate therapeutic development. One of the highest priorities for DiSRUPT will be perfecting the ability to produce genetic material with exceptionally low error rates for plasmid DNA. Another goal is to integrate and automate the systems associated with mRNA production, so the entire workflow can fit into a 40-foot container with other Wellcome Leap partners.
“This is the fourth project, following the U.S. DARPA NOW partnerships with Moderna and GE Research and French DGA program announced earlier this year, in which DNA Script has been selected to collaborate on deployable diagnostic and therapeutic responses to future pandemic needs,” said Ybert. “We’re proud to be considered a go-to partner as the international research community rises to meet the challenge of curbing future biothreats at the source, before they spread.”