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Genomatica, TeselaGen Ink Microbial DNA Design, Software Development Partnership


Genomatica has signed a multi-year licensing agreement with TeselaGen Biotechnology that allows it to use the company's automated DNA cloning software for its microbial strain engineering projects.

Specifically, Genomatica intends to use the software to develop proprietary organisms that it will license to customers who will use them to produce chemicals from renewable feedstocks. In addition, the partnership is an opportunity for TeselaGen to further develop its software for industrial use, according to Michael Fero, TeselaGen's co-founder and CEO.

He said in a statement that the company's "academic roots have given us a firm platform on which to build, but now we’re focused on meeting the needs of industrial customers" making this Genomatica partnership "ideal from our perspective.”

TeselaGen offers a commercial cloud-based version of j5, an automated DNA design and assembly platform, that was developed initially by researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute. TeselaGen licensed j5 from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory last summer and markets access to the product under a software-as-a-service model (BI 10/26/2012).

"The important thing that came out of academia was the core or kernel of intellectual property, the DNA assembly part," Fero told BioInform. "Of course that’s going to be useful to people in industry [but] what you really want to have for industry is first of all something that’s more robust from a software point of view, you want to have something that integrates well with their existing system, and also you want to have something that’s secure."

As part of its agreement with Genomatica, TeselaGen will work on fitting its software into the company's workflow and integrating it with their existing informatics infrastructure, Fero said. Genomatica will also provide feedback about possible improvements to TeselaGen's software, he said. "Those kinds of improvements we can pass on to our other customers, which is very valuable to us."

The financial details of the agreement are not being disclosed.

West coast-based TeselaGen opened up shop officially in 2011 with funding from two National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research grants and an angel investment.

The company, which is incubated at the University of California, San Francisco, targets firms in the medical, industrial, and plant biotechnology markets where it believes it products can help firms build better biologic drugs, and develop more sustainable chemicals and biofuels.

So far, TeselaGen has clients in both the medical and industrial biotech markets and its now trying to secure a client in the plant biotech arena. Once it's able to do so, "then we can focus on those real live customer pain points for the next round of improvements to the software," CEO Fero said.

Future plans also include the development of capabilities that will let users build DNA libraries of differing lengths and complexity.

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