Novel approach to DNA synthesis could help tackle COVID-19 pandemic

Synthetic biology, and particularly DNA synthesis, is transforming diagnosis and treatment of disease, and may yet play a key role in halting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Allie Nawrat, Senior Medical Reporter at GlobalData, asked CEO and co-founder of Twist, Dr. Emily Leproust about how their novel approach to DNA synthesis could help.

Leproust tells GlobalData:

My co-founder, Bill Banyai is a silicon expert, so when he looked at DNA synthesis he thought that it could be done in much smaller volume through miniaturizing the chemistry, because when you do that, you get much higher throughput at a much lower cost.

There is a tremendous amount of coronavirus research ongoing worldwide. Many companies have come to Twist, as we offer products in several key areas that enable rapid, efficient research into a potential pandemic like the new coronavirus.

We are supporting customers by making specific genes and gene mutants of interest; researchers are studying a wide array of genes associated with the novel coronavirus, as well as mutants that may make the virus more or less potent.

Secondly, we are making custom next-generation sequencing (NGS) enrichment panels that include portions of the coronavirus to monitor outbreak areas, and allow researchers to identify and target specific segments of the virus that they’d like to study.

Customers have [also] come to us with antibody sequences from people who have been infected, and [then] recovered, from COVID-19. We can make DNA sequences that encode segments of antibodies and variants of those antibodies that can be tested as potential therapeutic treatments.”

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