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NIST Awards Codon Devices $1.6M in ATP Funds for Ligation-Based Gene Synthesis Platform

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institute of Standards and Technology has awarded Codon Devices $1.6 million under its Advanced Technology Program to develop a microfluidics platform to help automate the gene synthesis process.
According to the project abstract, the microfluidics platform could significantly reduce the cost and complexity of building DNA fragments that are longer than 300 base pairs using ligation assembly.
The company said in the abstract that despite recent improvements in PCR-based methods for assembling DNA, the approach is not applicable to all gene sequences. “Several types of gene sequences are known to fail in PCR assembly, including those with regions of high repetition of sequences and those with many occurrences of certain amino acid combinations,” according to the abstract.
Codon Devices said that while a ligation-based approach can overcome these obstacles, ligation currently costs six to 10 times as much as PCR assembly.
The company said that its proposed microfluidics platform “will address many of the limiting and cost-prohibitive elements of ligation assembly” and will “make gene synthesis available on researchers' benches as a stand-alone instrument for the first time.”
The ATP grant runs through October 2010. The company estimates the total project cost to be more than $2 million.

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