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At Oxford conference, automated synthetic biology was in the spotlight

September 16, 2020

For BioXp® system users, antibody drug discovery is one of the most popular applications. That’s why we were delighted to participate in the recent Oxford Global Biologics virtual conference, with a presentation from our own Kirsty Maclean, Director of Applications & Customer Engagement. If you couldn’t attend, here’s a quick look at the highlights from that talk.

Avoid E. coli transformation

The BioXp® 3250 system is an automated synthetic biology workstation that produces transfection-ready DNA, libraries, and complex Gibson assemblies, so there’s no need for all the time and prep associated with traditional E. coli protocols.

SynBio for immunotherapy

Thanks to major advances in synthetic biology methods, drug discovery scientists are now using these approaches to design novel immunotherapies based on bioengineered cells. T-cell receptor (TCR) therapies are key targets of this transformative cell engineering concept. Challenges with developing TCR therapies include optimizing binding affinity for tumor antigens, finding specific TCRs for the desired goal, screening those TCRs for key traits, and more.

BioXp® system case study

The presentation introduced attendees to our BioXp® 3250 system, the world’s only fully automated synthetic biology workstation. It can build genes, clones, or entire libraries in a single overnight run. The talk also included a case study from the GigaMune drug discovery team, based on results reported in a recent Nature Biotechnology paper, aiming to identify TCRs’ high functional avidity from diverse human T-cell repertoires. The group integrated various high-throughput methodologies, including the BioXp® system, to synthesize full-length antiviral TCRα–TCRβ lentiviral expression constructs, transduced them into Jurkat T-cells to create a library, and mined for desired TCRαβ sequences. The project was very successful, capturing more than 2.9 million natively paired TCRαβ clonotypes and identifying extremely rare viral-antigen-reactive TCRs. This approach removed a substantial bottleneck in functional TCR discovery for the scientists.

Pursuing precision medicine

Even beyond TCR discovery, synthetic biology — and the BioXp® 3250 system in particular — will be important for advancing precision medicine. The BioXp® system offers faster turnaround time than conventional methods, and robust application development across genomic workflows. The system can produce custom-built de novo DNA sequences in an entirely hands-free process and perform flexible automated cloning into up to four proprietary vectors.

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