Emily Leproust, CEO and co-founder of Twist Bioscience, is reinventing the wheel when it comes to DNA synthesis. “I have one goal with respect to DNA synthesis — that’s to make cloning obsolete,” she says.
Synthetic DNA can be used to modify the functionality of existing biological organisms such as yeast, bacteria, and algae. Editing the DNA of these organisms is a trial-and-error process, requiring dozens of iterations before the right DNA sequence is discovered. According to Leproust, many companies find it too cost prohibitive to try out enough combinations to get the right fit.
After working for years on products based on genetics and DNA sequencing, “I was very aware of how unhappy customers were in the DNA synthesis market,” says Leproust. “It takes too long to make DNA. It’s too expensive. People have more ideas than money.” Those without the resources to purchase DNA have to make it themselves, using a tedious cloning process in which host cells (e.g., yeast) churn out copies of inserted DNA. This is where Leproust’s company has found its niche — creating DNA faster and cheaper than the competition, and making DNA more available to those without a huge budget...
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