Update on 29/07/2020: DNA Script has increased the total raised in its Series B round to €80M ($89M). The additional funds will support the commercial launch of the company’s benchtop DNA printer, which is designed to allow same-day DNA synthesis directly in the lab bench.
The company is planning to launch a beta testing program later this year and to start taking orders for the equipment next year.
The French company DNA Script will spend the funds raised in a Series B round to expand its workforce and get ready for the launch of its first benchtop system for DNA synthesis.
The €34.4M ($38.5M) Series B funding was led by the European VC firm Life Sciences Partners (LSP). Bpifrance, Illumina Ventures, Merck Ventures, Sofinnova Partners, Kurma Partners, and Idinvest also took part in the oversubscribed round.
The proceeds will be used to hire new employees for DNA Script’s US subsidiary, created last November, as well as to expand its Paris team. In total, between 60 and 70 people will be hired over the next 2 years.
The new hires are part of the company’s plans to prepare for the commercialization of its first product. The launch is expected within 2 to 3 years according to Sylvain Gariel, COO of DNA Script.
“DNA Script wants to bring a benchtop system to accelerate molecular biology experiments and workflows in life science labs. We aim at enabling scientists to get what they really want, results and answers, in a faster, more flexible way,” Gariel told me.
DNA Script is developing a technology to synthesize DNA using the enzymes that naturally synthesize DNA in living beings. This approach could be significantly faster than current methods, which rely on organic chemistry.
A big difference compared with traditional DNA synthesis is that DNA Script plans to launch devices that sit on the lab bench, skipping the time spent on having a third party synthesize and deliver a sequence of DNA required for an experiment. Instead of waiting for a few days, a scientist could have results in a few hours.
“That’s why we want this system to be incredibly user-friendly, without any organic chemistry expertise needed,” added Gariel. Although the first benchtop equipment is not there yet, the ultimate goal of the company is to let scientists perform a custom experiment with just one click.
“Genomics and molecular biology research are the areas of initial commercial focus. In the long term, we think this technology has an incredible potential to enable personalized medicine.”
In the past 50 years, the speed and cost of reading DNA have dramatically gone down. That has not been the case for writing DNA, which today has become a bottleneck for applications in all fields of life sciences. Several companies around the world, including Molecular Assemblies and Ansa Biotechnologies, are working to develop enzymatic methods that can make DNA synthesis faster and more affordable.