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Creating Synthetic DNA

The DNA sequences produced are also called oligonucleotides. These are widely used for disease identification, for the manufacture of oligonucleotide-based drugs, and several other medical and biotechnological applications.

The high demand for oligonucleotides requires an efficient automated method for their chemical production. This method depends on phosphoramidites, which are chemical compounds that have the disadvantage of being unstable unless stored at the ideal -20 degrees Celsius. Instruments used for DNA synthesis are not able to cool down the phosphoramidites, and consequently, it is unavoidable that some of them degrade after being added to the instrument.

This avoids both the manual synthesis of these, which normally would take up to 12 hours, as well as the problem of storing unstable phosphoramidites. Gothelf’s group has contributed with their expertise in automated DNA synthesis and Skrydstrup’s group has contributed with their know-how with chemical reactions that take place in continuously flowing liquids

Dr Marc Brehme will introduce us to Ribbon Biolabs’ innovative platform for the automated synthesis of long DNA molecules and will showcase the relevance of precise, loss-less DNA quantification for synthetic biology. Dr Beatrice Marg-Haufe will tell us more about some exciting new technology for Tecan’s line of liquid handling workstations that allows quantifying of nucleic acids without sample loss using UV-based concentration and purity measurements in a hanging drop.

Technological developments and democratization of synthesis modalities have improved access to an even wider range of life science investigators presenting new challenges, but also a host of opportunities for new solutions. Synthesis of DNA molecules and libraries has always been at the vanguard of synthetic biology endeavors but has seen its share of challenges that scientists have to navigate.

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