We’re proud of Codex DNA’s Co-Founder and CTO, Dan Gibson, for being featured in this year’s Newsweek Magazine’s America’s Greatest Disruptor list. With his team of scientists at Codex DNA, Dan Gibson is focused on creating a new paradigm for automating synthetic biology. Codex DNA is empowering researchers to accelerate their workflows using the BioXp™ 3250 synthetic biology workstation that enables researchers to build biology overnight.
Newsweek interviewed Dan Gibson to better understand his journey and vision for building a breakthrough technology that would allow doctors to personalize medicine at their patients’ bedside and help fight epidemics around the world.
Can you tell us briefly what impact your innovation has had? And what impact do you hope for in the next few years?
Currently, the process of writing synthetic DNA or mRNA for an improved biological function is carried out in laboratories by highly skilled researchers using multiple kits, each designed to perform one or more of the technical steps. Depending on the length and complexity of the desired synthetic DNA or mRNA product, the process may involve hundreds of manual steps, require numerous different kits, and take days, weeks, or months to complete. This delays timelines for the development of important drugs, vaccines, and therapeutics. This is why we came up with the BioXp system, which empowers users to rapidly, accurately, and reproducibly create high-quality synthetic DNA and mRNA on an automated benchtop instrument. In the future, we expect to continue to offer expanded DNA, mRNA, and protein solutions to help our customers more rapidly develop their products to address some of humanity’s biggest challenges.
How did you come up with the idea?
After performing many of these manual steps in the lab, we recognized the need for sustainable and automated solutions in the lab in the synthetic biology space. Therefore, we developed our synthetic biology solution to address the significant unmet need in the market for an approach that can automate, integrate, optimize, and standardize the process for building synthetic DNA and mRNA. The first iteration of our technology is found in the BioXp 3250 instrument.
How many labs are using the BioXp system currently?
At the time of our initial public offering in June 2021 (Nasdaq:DNAY), there were approximately 160 BioXp instruments in the field, and we’ve continued to sell more instruments to more labs throughout the year.
Have any labs using the BioXp system had any breakthroughs or developments you feel proud your technology had a part in?
We tend to support customers in the fields of personalized medicine, biologics drug discovery, vaccine development, genome editing, and cell and gene therapy, and there is a great deal of impactful work going on in these areas to the benefit of society. One significant example involves Pfizer, who used Our BioXp system to rapidly iterate spike protein DNA variants to the SARS-CoV-2 genes as they developed their COVID-19 vaccine. As a result of this work, we built the world’s first fully synthetic SARs Cov-2 genome in less than 10 days—a process that normally would have taken months.
Are there any further changes or innovations planned for the BioXp system soon that you can share?
Our team has a long history of innovation in synthetic biology, and we intend to continue that tradition with several future innovations coming related to the BioXp platform.
We have launched the first of three mRNA kits to run on the BioXp instrument. The additional two mRNA products, launching in 2022, focus on larger-scale production and increased build lengths. They will also allow us to support additional segments of the market for mRNA-based vaccines where the length of the antigen is significantly larger and requires long mRNA templates and robust mRNA production. We also intend to launch a series of additional systems including the BioXp 9600—which is a higher throughput version of the 3250.
In the long run, our BioXp Oligo Printer will incorporate our novel and proprietary enzymatic DNA synthesis technology for the benchtop production of primers and oligos used for gene synthesis. The BioXp DBC or (Digital to Biological Converter) will be a combination of the 9600 and the Oligo Printer and will enable streamlined benchtop production of oligos for DNA and mRNA printing. This will provide scientists with significant efficiency and environmental benefits compared with current approaches today. Finally, the technology paves the way to a needle-ready vaccine printer that may have the potential to deliver rapid synthesis of vaccines globally distributed and manufactured for future pandemics.
The Newsweek article can be found here.