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GenScript Partners with Harvard University to Develop Ultra-safe Cells Resistant to Natural Viruses

PISCATAWAY, N.J., Sept. 23, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- GenScript®, the world's leading gene synthesis provider, today announced that it will provide research support to Harvard University scientist George Church, PhD, for his contributions to the Ultra-safe Cell project, the first grand scale community-wide initiative being undertaken by Genome Project-write and The Center for Excellence in Engineering Biology. The project aims to develop a cell line that is completely resistant to all natural viruses, and consequently could pave the way for many biomedical applications, from modeling cell and tissue behaviors to the production of better and safer biologics and therapeutics.

Church, a professor of genetics and health sciences and technology at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is working in conjunction with Jeff Boeke, of New York University's Langone Health. To engineer the virus-resistant human cell line, scientists are using a process called DNA recoding to alter about 1 percent of the genome, including the exons of all the genes, and nearby sequences, leaving the vast majority of the non-coding regions untouched. Under the collaboration, GenScript will be providing research support, including DNA synthesis services, for the project. 

"Recoding every protein in the human genome is a significant and difficult undertaking, requiring, for example, 400,000 changes," Church said. "Effective and efficient tools for genomic analysis, DNA synthesis, assembly and testing are crucial to the development of ultra-safe, virus-resistant cells. GenScript's significant experience in DNA synthesis will be beneficial to this project, and we appreciate the company's support and continual innovation in the development of new technologies to advance our efforts."

Making large-scale changes to the genome could also help improve cellular survival by making cells less likely to become cancerous and to better resist damage from extreme conditions, such as radiation. Additionally, the project could result in the development of new genomics tools and technologies that are more affordable and broadly available to the scientific community.

Church, a world-renowned geneticist and a pioneer of genome engineering and synthetic biology, has co-authored more than 515 papers and 130 patent publications. His innovations have contributed to most of the "next generation" DNA sequencing, synthesis and editing methods.

"Dr. Church has made significant contributions to genomic research and his advancements have positively impacted human health in numerable ways," said Cedric Wu, PhD, GenScript's vice president of research and development. "We are honored to collaborate with him on this project and look forward to ultra-safe virus-resistant cells becoming the foundation for better, safer, cheaper and more reliable pharmaceuticals and to the potential applications they may have in fields such as agriculture, energy and chemicals."

The ultra-safe cell project is partially modeled on the success of the GP-write Synthetic 2.0 (Sc2.0), led by Boeke at Langone. Multiple institutions are conducting various aspects of this virus-safe cell work as part of GP-write. GenScript has long supported the consortium and was the only company selected in 2011 to partner on the Sc2.0 project to create the world's first synthetic eukaryotic genome for high value industrial applications. In May 2018 GenScript also joined GP-write's newly formed Industry Advisory Board.

About GenScript

GenScript is the world leader in biotechnology reagent services and biologics. Established in 2002 in New Jersey, United States, the company was the first to commercialize gene synthesis and successfully establish fully integrated capabilities for custom peptide synthesis, protein expression and engineering, custom antibody development and engineering, in vitro/in vivo pharmacology as well as a variety of catalogue products. GenScript has now expanded its business into immunotherapy, CDMO, laboratory equipment, and microbial industry to further fulfill its mission in making human and nature healthier through biotechnology. GenScript has also established open and innovative technology-driven platforms and GMP facilities for pre-clinical drug discovery and pharmaceutical products development.


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