DNA Script picks up $38.5 million to make DNA production faster and simpler


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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DNA Script has raised $38.5 million in new financing to commercialize a process that it claims is the first big leap forward in manufacturing genetic material.

The revolution in synthetic biology that’s reshaping industries from medicine to agriculture rests on three, equally important pillars.

They include: analytics — the ability to map the genome and understand the function of different genes; synthesis — the ability to manufacture DNA to achieve certain functions; and gene editing — the CRISPR-based technologies that allow for the addition or subtraction of genetic code.

New technologies have already been introduced to transform the analytics and editing of genomes, but little progress has been made over the past 50 years in the ways in which genetic material is manufactured. That’s exactly the problem that DNA Script is trying to solve.

Traditionally, making DNA involved the use of chemical compounds to synthesize (or write) DNA in

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XGenomes is bringing DNA sequencing to the masses


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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As healthcare moves toward genetically tailored treatments, one of the biggest hurdles to truly personalized medicine is the lack of fast, low-cost genetic testing.

And few people are more familiar with the problems of today’s genetic diagnostics tools than Kalim Mir, the 52-year-old founder of XGenomes, who has spent his entire professional career studying the human genome.

Ultimately genomics is going to be the foundation for healthcare,” says Mir. “For that we need to move toward a sequencing of populations.” And population-scale gene sequencing is something that current techniques are unable to achieve. 

“If we’re talking about population scale sequencing with millions of people we just don’t have the throughput,” Mir says.

That’s why he started XGenomes, which is presenting as part of the latest batch of Y Combinator companies next week.

A visiting scientist in Harvard Medical School’s Department of Genetics, Mir worked with the

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As biological manufacturing moves to the mainstream, Synvitrobio rebrands and raises cash


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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The pace at which the scientific breakthroughs working to bend the machinery of life to the whims of manufacturing have transformed into real businesses has intensified competition in the biomanufacturing market.

That’s just one reason why Synvitrobio is rebranding as it takes on $2.6 million in new financing to pursue opportunities in biopharmaceutical and biochemical manufacturing. Under its new name, Tierra Biosciences, the company hopes to emphasize its focus on agricultural and biochemical products.

The company is one of several looking to commercialize the field of “cell-free” manufacturing — where biological engineers strip down the cellular building blocks of life to their most basic components to create processes that ideally can be more easily manipulated to produce different kinds of chemicals.

There’s a standard way to create these cell free processes (described quite nicely in The Economist).

Grab a few quarts of culture with some kind of

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George Church’s genetics on the blockchain startup just raised $4.3 million from Khosla


This post is by Sarah Buhr from TechCrunch


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Nebula Genomics, the startup that wants to put your whole genome on the blockchain, has announced the raise of $4.3 million in Series A from Khosla Ventures and other leading tech VC’s such as Arch Venture Partners, Fenbushi Capital, Mayfield, F-Prime Capital Partners, Great Point Ventures, Windham Venture Partners, Hemi Ventures, Mirae Asset, Hikma Ventures and Heartbeat Labs.

Nebula has also has forged a partnership with genome sequencing company Veritas Genetics.

Veritas was one of the first companies to sequence the entire human genome for less than $1,000 in 2015, later adding all that info to the touch of a button on your smartphone. Both Nebula and Veritas were cofounded by MIT professor and “godfather” of the Human Genome Project, George Church.

The partnership between the two companies will allow the Nebula marketplace, or the place where those consenting to share their genetic data can earn Nebula’s cryptocurrency called “Nebula

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The top 10 startups from Y Combinator’s Demo Day S’18 Day 2


This post is by Anna Escher from TechCrunch


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59 startups took the stage at Y Combinator’s Demo Day 2  and among the highlights were a company that helps developers manage in-app subscriptions; a service that lets you create animojis from real photos; and a surplus medical equipment reselling platform. Oh… and there was also a company that’s developed an entirely new kind of life form using e coli bacteria. So yeah, that’s happening.

Based on some investor buzz and what caught TechCrunch’s eye, these are our picks from the second day of Y Combinator’s presentations.

You can find the full list of companies that presented on Day 1 here, and our top picks from Day 1 here. 

64-x

With a founding team including some of the leading luminaries in the field of biologically inspired engineering (including George Church, Pamela Silver, and Jeffrey Way from Harvard’s Wyss Institute) 64-x is engineering organisms to function in otherwise inaccessible

RevenueCat founders

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Human sequencing pioneer George Church wants to give you the power to sell your DNA on the blockchain


This post is by Sarah Buhr from TechCrunch


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 The blockchain is the buzziest thing on the internet these days and now MIT professor and godfather of the Human Genome Project George Church wants to put your genes on it. His new startup Nebula Genomics plans to sequence your genome for less than $1,000 and then add your data to the blockchain through the purchase of a “Nebula Token.” Read More

CRISPR loses Nobel to tiny machines


This post is by Sarah Buhr from TechCrunch


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EVANSTON, IL - OCTOBER 05:  Professor Fraser Stoddart of Northwestern University toasts a glass of champagne with colleagues at a press conference after it was announced that he had won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry on October 5, 2016 in Evanston, Illinois. Stoddart shares the award with Jean-Pierre Sauvage, of the University of Strasbourg, France, and Bernard L. Feringa, of the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. The trio was awarded the prize for their work in "the design and synthesis of molecular machines."  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) CRISPR, the gene-editing technology revolutionizing the biotech industry, has failed to take home the Nobel prize in chemistry for the second year in a row. Instead, the award went to Jean-Pierre Sauvage, J. Fraser Stoddart, and Bernard L. Feringa – three men who developed the world’s smallest machines using molecular physics. Each will share equally in the 8 million Swedish kronor,… Read More

CRISPR loses Nobel to tiny machines


This post is by Sarah Buhr from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




EVANSTON, IL - OCTOBER 05:  Professor Fraser Stoddart of Northwestern University toasts a glass of champagne with colleagues at a press conference after it was announced that he had won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry on October 5, 2016 in Evanston, Illinois. Stoddart shares the award with Jean-Pierre Sauvage, of the University of Strasbourg, France, and Bernard L. Feringa, of the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. The trio was awarded the prize for their work in "the design and synthesis of molecular machines."  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) CRISPR, the gene-editing technology revolutionizing the biotech industry, has failed to take home the Nobel prize in chemistry for the second year in a row. Instead, the award went to Jean-Pierre Sauvage, J. Fraser Stoddart, and Bernard L. Feringa – three men who developed the world’s smallest machines using molecular physics. Each will share equally in the 8 million Swedish kronor,… Read More

You can now pull up your entire genome for under $1,000 on your smartphone


This post is by Sarah Buhr from TechCrunch


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Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 10.53.15 AM Veritas Genetics was one of the first companies to sequence the entire human genome for under $1,000 in 2015. It’s now taken that technology a step further by delivering the results of your entire genome in an app. To put in context just how radical this is, consider the first attempt at whole human genome sequencing required $3.7 billion to produce in 2001. It wasn’t until 2007… Read More

George Church and the potential of synthetic biology


This post is by Derek Jacoby from O'Reilly Radar - Insight, analysis, and research about emerging technologies


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A few weeks ago, I explained why I thought biohacking was one of the most important new trends in technology. If I didn’t convince you, Derek Jacoby’s review (below) of George Church’s new book, Regenesis, will. Church is no stranger to big ideas: big ideas on the scale of sending humans to Mars. (The moon? That’s so done.) And unlike most people with big ideas, Church has an uncanny track record at making his ideas reality. Biohacking has been not so quietly gaining momentum for several years now. If there’s one book that can turn this movement into a full-blown revolution, this is it. — Mike Loukides


George Church and Ed Regis pull off an exciting and speculative romp through the field of synthetic biology and where it could take us in the not too distant future. If anyone with less eminence than Church were to have written this book then half this review would need to be spent defending the realism of the possibilities, but with his track record if he suggests it’s a possibility then it’s worth thinking about.

The possibilities are mind-blowing — breeding organisms immune to all viruses, recreating extinct species, creating humans immune to cancer. We’re entering an age where the limits to our capabilities to re-make the world around us are limited only by our imaginations and our good judgement. Regenesis addresses this as well, for instance proposing mechanisms to create synthetic organisms that are incapable of interacting with natural ones.

Although the book is aimed at a non-technical general audience, the science is explained in excellent detail and is well-referenced for further study.

As the book documents, we’re in the middle of an exponential increase in genomics capabilities that dwarfs even the pace of change in the computer industry. In such a rapidly changing field if you can imagine a plausible technical approach to a problem, no matter how difficult or cumbersome it may be, then soon it’s likely to become easy.

To give an example of an idea long discussed in science fiction, the book addresses re-creating extinct species. Surprisingly, there is already a successful example of this having occurred! The Pyrenean ibex, or bucardo, is a type of mountain goat that went extinct in 1999. But before the last ibex died, researchers scraped a few tissue cells from the ear of the last surviving ibex. They were able to induce the skin cells to become stem cells, and then in a process called interspecies nuclear transfer cloning they were able to fuse those stem cells with de-nucleated donor goat eggs, implant the eggs into domestic goats, and successfully birth a living ibex. By extension, the book examines the implications of reviving the wooly mammoth, or even neanderthals.

Similar detailed examples and discussions take the reader through the potentials of synthetic biology to transform fuel production, food production, waste processing, medicine, and even engineering of the human genome to produce Homo evolutis. Church’s background is in directed evolution — he invented many of the most powerful techniques to rapidly evolve portions of a genome to possess specified characteristics. To hear the inventor of such a powerful technology explore the ramifications of it is a real treat. Society will be exploring the issues raised in this book for many years — how to take advantage of the ability to re-engineer life while protecting against the risks that such a powerful technology must bring.

Refreshingly, in Church’s view protecting against those risks need not exclude amateurs and citizen scientists. Regenesis proposes a licensing scheme, but much more akin to a driver’s license than a formidable hurdle, and suggests a model where a combination of engineering techniques and basic shared procedures is sufficient to protect against any reasonable threats to safety while still ensuring the widest possible access to the technology.

Regenesis provides an accessible and engaging introduction to the revolutionary potentials of synthetic biology and should be of interest to both experts and a general science audience.

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