As one of the core technologies of synthetic biology, large-scale DNA design and synthesis technology gives people the ability to modify cell functions and even create artificial life, which will help further promote the development of life science and related fields.
With the continuous expansion of applications in the field of synthetic biology, DNA synthesis technology needs to meet many demands from the application side, including the synthesis of longer DNA sequences. Current DNA synthesis methods are generally limited to making relatively short strands of oligonucleotides and then “stitching” many short strands together to obtain longer sequences. “As the sequence becomes longer, the time, effort and cost required to manufacture it will increase substantially,” said Dr. Michael Dennis, vice president of product at Evonetix, a British DNA synthesis technology company.
Since its establishment in 2015, Evonetix has been committed to introducing semiconductor technology into the field of DNA synthesis technology, so as to create its proprietary large-scale, high-fidelity DNA synthesis technology platform. With the continuous advancement of this technology, Evonetix has completed a total of US$44 million in financing since its establishment.
In the first half of 2022, Evonetix completed an important milestone in the development of its benchtop DNA synthesis platform. The results show that the company’s semiconductor array-based DNA synthesis platform is compatible with chemical and enzymatic DNA synthesis methods, enabling fast and accurate construction methods for long DNA sequences.
It is reported that Evonetix’s proprietary process is to use a new type of silicon chip with thousands of independent thermal control reaction sites on the surface of the silicon chip. The temperature of each synthesis site can be controlled individually, so this method can control the correct synthesis of DNA by controlling the temperature at a specific site. Moreover, this method can accurately synthesize thousands of sequences on a single chip, meeting the assembly requirements of complex libraries and long-chain DNA.
”Semiconductor technology is essentially a silicon chip. We have developed a chip that can control the synthesis of DNA on its surface.” According to Evonetix, the synthesis method based on silicon chips can support thousands of sites for DNA synthesis at the same time. Here Afterwards, the synthesized oligonucleotides are individually released and transported from one synthesis site to the next by means of an advanced electrophoresis process. The transferred oligonucleotide will be captured by the electric field at the next site and complete combination with the complementary strand. After that, the temperature of the site will rise and melt the incorrect sequence. The entire synthesis, assembly, and error correction process can be completed within hours, whereas existing synthesis techniques still take days or weeks to complete.
According to the company, current typical enzymatic DNA synthesis methods rely on more traditional platforms. Existing methods are difficult to increase the number of DNA sequences prepared in parallel, but thermal control can get rid of the limitations of traditional methods, allowing users to complete large-scale gene synthesis, CRISPR screening and Protein engineering and more.
”The development of related synthetic biology requires better, less error-prone synthesis methods, or the establishment of more accurate sequence assembly and error elimination steps, so that long sequences can be prepared more quickly and easily,” Dennis believes, “and based on the current Some enzymatic synthesis methods and technology platforms are difficult to optimize for sequence assembly and error correction. Therefore, we need to study the physical properties of DNA to find new ways to assemble longer and more accurate DNA.” The company has recently announced the launch
of Early access program for its semiconductor synthetic DNA. Following this, it will further expand its parallel synthesis capabilities for semiconductor chips to enable full commercialization of this proprietary technology in the future.