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Molecular Assemblies Wins $256K NIH Phase I SBIR Grant to Develop Enzymatic DNA Synthesis

NEW YORK – Molecular Assemblies said on Tuesday that it has won a $256,226 grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop its enzymatic DNA synthesis process.

The small business innovation research grant, funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute, will help the San Diego-based company develop three key steps: polymerase incorporation of 3'-O-blocked nucleotides, an enzymatic deblocking step to remove the blocking group from the 3'-hydroxyl, and a novel enzymatic cleanup to deplete unreacted material.

"Synthetic biology has outpaced chemical DNA synthesis technology with research and applications being limited by cost and length of synthesized DNA," Molecular Assemblies cofounder and CSO William Efcavitch said in a statement. "A fully enzymatic DNA synthesis platform has the potential to deliver long, highly pure DNA to drive innovation in many industries, especially life sciences, DNA-based data storage, and advanced agricultural and industrial products."

In contrast to the well-established phosphoramidite chemistry, Molecular Assemblies' proprietary DNA synthesis process uses aqueous, non-toxic reagents and requires minimal post-synthesis purification and processing. The firm said in April that it extended its Series A financing to a total of approximately $24 million. France's DNA Script and Ansa Biotechnologies of California are among the other firms working on enzymatic synthesis of DNA.