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Southampton, Oxford Lands $6.3M Grant for Synthetic Biology

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Researchers at the University of Southampton and the University of Oxford have netted a £4 million ($6.3 million) grant from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council to develop a new synthetic biology technology that could aid in the production of useful DNA and RNA structures.

The team will use the funding, awarded under the strategic Longer and Larger program, to develop a technique for "clicking" DNA and RNA segments together that could make synthetic biology research projects cheaper, more efficient, and more scalable, BBSRC said this week.

The technology aims to address one of the difficulties of synthesizing DNA molecules that makes it slow and laborious — the development of large numbers of short DNA strands that are linked together using delicate enzymes. The "click" technique replaces those enzymes with chemical methods to create stronger links between DNA and RNA that make them more useful for industrial scale applications, according to Southampton professor Tom Brown, a joint leader on the project.

"This new technology is an important addition to the toolbox of molecular techniques that is allowing researchers to explore how biological systems function by creating simplified and modified biomolecular machinery," Andrew Turberfield, a professor at Oxford who is participating on the project, said in a statement.

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