The world’s first benchtop platform for digital genome engineering

digital genome editing lab automation

Date: 3rd October 2019

Gene editing goes digital, as Inscripta launch their new automated platform for CRISPR-mediated genome engineering.

CRISPR technology is a hot topic in synthetic biology.  Whilst the hype surrounding its potential has been huge, the reality is starting to be realised with a vast range of life-changing CRISPR-based applications coming into focus on a regular basis.

To name but a few…

  • The first FDA-approved therapies using CRISPRs are entering human trials.
  • CRISPRs have been used as a diagnostic tool by companies such as Sherlock BioScience.
  • Nanosens Innovation and Cardea Bio have also exploited the power of CRISPRs in the world’s first DNA search engine: The Genome Sensor™, a CRISPR-Chip biosensor able to detect disease mutations.
  • CRISPR gene editing has also featured as a core element in the development of human-animal hybrids, where the animal acts as a surrogate for the ‘human’ organ, and offers hope as a possible alternative to organ transplants.

Automated genome engineering

Inscripta have announced this week the launch of the world’s first fully automated benchtop instrument bringing genome-scale engineering to the lab. 

Harnessing the power of CRISPR technology, they have created a CRISPR-mediated engineering platform.  It enables the user to precisely engineer millions of microbial libraries containing the full breadth and scope of possible edit types, in one experiment through a fully automated workflow.

The Onyx™ platform is hoped to empower the researcher, transforming the capabilities of design, engineering, evaluation and tracking results of genome editing experiments.  It will connect these processes in one workflow and  encompass it into the scientists own lab.  It is likely to allow multiple hypotheses to be tested in parallel, and reduce the time and cost associated with the optimisation of complex gene editing methods.

Early adopters

Early adopters have been granted access to Onyx™ in a range of fields

  • James Collins and a team at MIT, US, have been using the platform to explore the genetic dependencies of antibiotic function in unprecedented detail, potentially leading to the development of novel therapeutics against antibiotic resistant pathogens.
  • Markus Herrgard at Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability, in Denmark, is pushing the transition from fossil fuels to a bio-based economy. The platform has allowed them to engineer large numbers of genetic changes into microbial cell factories in a rapid, and cost-effective manner, creating new cell factories for the sustainable production of chemicals.
  • Chris Savile, at Willow Bioscience in Canada, is using the platform to accelerate their microbial R&D programs and shorten time to market. The company commercialise high-value bio-products derived from plants.

digital genome engineering using CRISPRs

Automated synthetic biology

The Onyx™ platform sees synthetic biology meet lab automation.  For the researcher this offers an exciting advancement in CRISPR technology development, where we have recently seen the drive towards multi-gene editing platforms, such as CRISPR activation in bacterial factories, and Lightning GTR-CRISPR as a method of multiplexing gene editing.

Whilst these methods offered substantial advancement, this fully automated digital engineering platform takes the technology to yet another level and it will be interesting to see the dynamics of its uptake.

For more information please read the press release.