“Digital Genome Engineering: Unlocking the Potential of Synthetic Biology” Symposium Highlights

The Global Synthetic Biology Conference organized by Built With Biology (formerly SynBioBeta) is one of the biggest and most anticipated events in synthetic biology industry. Unfortunately, the Omicron surge caused the in-person meeting to be postponed from January to April 10-12, 2022. This did not stop us, however, as we decided to partner with Build With Biology to put on a half-day virtual symposium “Digital Genome Engineering: Unlocking the Potential of Synthetic Biology” which took place on January 26th.

The event featured three sessions with key industry leaders who shared insights into how you can create successful organism engineering workflows. The biggest takeaway is that to be competitive in the emerging bioeconomy companies must find ways to incorporate automated, high-throughput CRISPR-based genome editing technologies. Attendees also got to learn about the new Iterative Genome Engineering capability of the Onyx® platform. If you missed the live event, you can watch the recordings here. Below are some highlights from the 3 sessions.

Rapid, iterative, genome-scale semi-rational approaches enable building on the current knowledge and discovery of new targets

In the first session, Patrick Westfall, Senior Director of Microbial Applications at Inscripta, and Richard Fox, Co-Founder & CEO/CTO at Infinome Biosciences, discussed the best ways to engineer biology. Both panelists agree that to engineer biology, we need to integrate both rational and empirical approaches by introducing diverse genome-wide edits. Richard Fox advocates for reducing the Design-Generate-Test-Learn (DGTL) cycle times and screening a small subset of the libraries in favor of moving quickly to recombine the beneficial edits through iterative cycles of genome engineering. With tools like the Onyx platform, which dramatically increases the throughput and decreases to time it takes to generate thousands of edits, the diversity generation is no longer the rate-limiting step.

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The Onyx platform automates the genome editing workflow and enables rapid strain improvement through Iterative Genome Engineering

Inscripta’s goal is to provide the tools that expand the capabilities of genome engineering. This is why we recently introduced the Iterative Genome Engineering workflow to enable repeated genome engineering cycles to add additional edits to previously edited strains. With ready-to-use reagents, intuitive design and analysis software, and seamless workflow integration, the Onyx platform is the first benchtop biofoundry. In this session, Eric Abbate, Director of Analytical Biochemistry at Inscripta, showcased how the Iterative Genome Engineering workflow produced a 400% improvement in protein production in less than 6 months, as well as identification of novel protein variants.

Leading SynBio companies like Amyris, Ginkgo, and Sestina Bio are already using the Onyx platform as a critical part of their research workflows

Synthetic biology can help address many challenges we face today, for example by replacing difficult-to-source materials with sustainable ingredients produced in microbes. The leading companies in the space are already using the Onyx platform to speed up their workflow and develop bio-based solutions. Kirsten Benjamin, VP R&D at Amyris highlighted the importance of scale and automation to drive down the cost and time of strain development, which is why they have invested in the Onyx platform to expand their pipeline.

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Similarly, Ginkgo Bioworks has adopted the Onyx platform into their biofoundries to accelerate the strain development time and has already seen a 50% reduction in the DGTL cycle times in certain editing capabilities in an initial evaluation. The Onyx platform can also help newer companies de-risk the scale-up stage of manufacturing “We can radically de-risk the path to manufacturing,” said Andrew Horwitz of Sestina Bio, one of Inscripta’s first customers.

The symposium provided fresh perspectives, deep insights, and inspiring stories from our industry colleagues. As we plan to reconvene at the Build With Biology conference on April 10-12th in Oakland, CA, we are excited to keep working on building enabling tools to bring the synthetic biology vision closer to reality.