Creating Life From ScratchStartup: Designer Life
By Corie Lok
Last year, some 250 engineers, computer scientists, and biologists gathered at MIT for the first conference in a new field called synthetic biology. Their common goal: designing and building from scratch artificial biological systems such as cells or microorganisms that can do anything from producing drugs to cleaning up pollution.
Just a few months after the conference, some of the researchers founded a synthetic-biology startup called Codon Devices to provide those tools. With $13 million in venture capital funding, Codon is developing high-speed, low-cost DNA synthesis technology that could make synthetic biology a reality.
Since synthetic biologists engineer genomes from scratch, instead of modifying naturally occurring ones, they should be able to create proteins and cells with novel and complex capabilities. Synthetic biologists say they want to design and build genomes in the same way that electrical engineers make integrated circuits.
Within the next two years, Codon's technology should reduce the time and cost of synthesizing DNA to about one-hundredth to one-thousandth of their current rates.
Startup: Designer Life