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Synthetic Biology Firm Synthorx Launches

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Synthetic biology firm Synthorx launched today with exclusive rights to a technology developed by a researcher at the Scripps Research Institute.

Based in San Diego, Synthorx also has received an investment from Avalon Ventures and Correlation Ventures, though it didn't disclose the amount of the funding.

Using technology developed in the laboratory of TSRI associate professor and company Co-founder Floyd Romesberg, Synthorx seeks to discover and develop new medicines, diagnostics, and vaccines. The technology was described in a study published today in Nature, in which Romesberg and his colleagues describe "the first example of the in vivo replication of a synthetic DNA base pair," dubbed d5SICSTP and dNaMTP (abbreviated as X and Y), according to Synthorx.

In the study's abstract, the researchers said that they demonstrated that "an exogenously expressed algal nucleotide triphosphate transporter efficiently imports the triphosphates of both d5SICS and dNaM (d5SICSTP and dNaMTP) into Escherichia coli, and that the endogenous replication machinery uses them to accurately replicate a plasmid containing d5SICS–dNaM."

Romesberg also had described the technology earlier this year to PCR Insider.

The new DNA base pairs expand the genetic alphabet, allowing more information to be stored and potentially leading to the discovery and development of new drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines. The development of other new products, such as research reagents, aptamers, and nanomaterials, will also be facilitated, Synthrox said.

Court Turner, Synthorx president and a venture partner at Avalon Ventures, said in a statement that the "limited combinations of the DNA bases, A, T, G and C, have restricted the types of new proteins, RNA, and DNA that we could make. Adding X and Y to the genetic alphabet, we now have an expanded vocabulary to generate a variety of new inputs and materials for drug discovery, improved vaccines, and improvements to nanotechnologies, such as microprocessing.

"We have already begun to further develop Romesberg's breakthrough technology at Synthorx and will work with partners to synthesize innovative solutions for numerous medical and technological applications," Turner said.