Grant to enable the cost-effective, scalable, and sustainable enzymatic production of
DNA and RNA oligonucleotides used in therapeutics, vaccines, diagnostics, and R&D
San Diego, CA – April 27, 2022 – The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at the National Institutes of Health has awarded a two-year Phase II Small Business Innovation Research award with a year one funding amount of $1,059,968 to Primordial Genetics. The company will develop a novel enzymatic process for the synthesis of DNA oligonucleotides to enable more efficient and cost-effective production of DNA and RNA oligonucleotides to meet the needs of companies developing nucleic acid therapeutics. Primordial Genetics’ innovations can accelerate the use of synthetic DNA in treating disease, and impact the treatment, prevention, and diagnosis of human diseases including cancer, heart disease, infectious diseases caused by viruses and bacteria, and genetic diseases.
Until recently, most synthetic DNA and RNA has been made using synthetic chemical methods that are decades old and fully optimized but not suited for further efficiency improvement. These methods are also significant polluters, as they use high volumes of organic solvents. Enzymatic DNA & RNA synthesis processes are a relatively recent development and promise lower-cost production of oligonucleotides that is more easily scalable, more environmentally friendly, and more capable of meeting the needs of companies developing genome-based therapeutics.
“The completion of the human genome in 2000 opened the door to the development of powerful new genomic medicines,” said Helge Zieler founder and president of Primordial Genetics. “In the intervening 20+ years, such treatments have become reality, but the cost of producing oligonucleotide active ingredients is still prohibitive. New DNA and RNA synthesis technologies are urgently needed to meet the rapidly rising demand for clinical-grade oligonucleotides. Primordial Genetics will solve these problems through the novel enzymatic production process that will be developed during this project sponsored by NHGRI.”
With NHGRI funding for a Phase I grant that began in 2020, Primordial Genetics developed seven unique DNA polymerases, enzymes with the property of a non-processive addition of single nucleotides to an oligonucleotide in solution. These enzymes are suitable for DNA synthesis in a simple process that does not require a chemical deblocking step.
In the Phase II project, these enzymes will be evolved to develop a full panel of additional activities required for a working oligonucleotide synthesis process. Primordial Genetics will enable a >99% rate of single nucleotide addition in each synthesis cycle that is needed for a prototype industrial enzymatic strategy of manufacturing DNA.
Sub-awardee Koliber Biosciences, which has developed an innovative AI platform for analysis of protein / peptide datasets, will assist Primordial Genetics by developing on-purpose machine learning models for the polymerases and predicting improved enzyme variants. Dr. Ewa Lis, CEO of Koliber said “We are excited to be able to apply our expertise in bio-data science and further demonstrate the capabilities of the AI protein / peptide platform. We look forward to working with Primordial on this project”.
Funding starts May 1, 2022.
ABOUT PRIMORDIAL GENETICS
Primordial Genetics was founded in 2011 with the goal of developing novel industry-relevant enabling genetic technologies and building the premier company for microbial genetic improvement. Our ultimate goal is to be able to shape the genetics and characteristics of useful organisms and useful biomolecules rapidly and flexibly. Function Generator™, our platform technology, is broadly capable of developing novel and advanced traits in microbes used for the production of useful compounds ranging from fuels and chemicals to pharmaceuticals and enzymes. The technology also represents a novel way for optimizing enzymes with higher catalytic efficiency, improved temperature tolerance, altered substrate specificity, and resistance to inhibitors. We are passionate about engineering superior novel microbes that lead to a healthy, sustainable planet. Learn more at primordialgenetics.com.
ABOUT KOLIBER BIOSCIENCES
San Diego-based Koliber Biosciences is a privately held company founded in 2014 that specializes in developing artificial intelligence solutions to accelerate biological discoveries. With financial support from several SBIR awards and other sources, Koliber Biosciences is pursuing its “mission to help researchers and business leaders across a variety of biotech and healthcare sectors to incorporate powerful predictive algorithms into their everyday research and turn complex data into key insights.” The core technology is an AI platform for peptides and proteins that enables discovery of novel peptides / proteins with specific properties, prediction of improved variants, efficient exploration of peptide / protein design space and analysis of key performance drivers. Learn more at koliberbio.com.