February 23, 2017

DNA Synthesis Will Eclipse DNA Sequencing, Says Hermann Hauser, Evonetix Investor

Hermann Hauser

Imagine an approach to DNA synthesis so precise it’s best described as a gene-sequencing printer that enables biological engineers to “write” new organisms with all the confidence of a typesetter creating words with metal type. Such a printer would make the creation of DNA much cheaper and more efficient. “It’s a critical step toward actually engineering biological systems,” says serial entrepreneur and technology pioneer Hermann Hauser.

Hauser’s sense of where synbio is heading is reflected in Evonetix, a subsidiary of Cambridge Consultants in which he’s the primary investor. The company will produce “nearly perfect” DNA with error rates less than one in a billion, an achievement he says would revolutionize the industry, he predicts.

“The most promising growth areas are reliable and inexpensive gene synthesis and reproducible processes that use them,” says Hauser, who will deliver a fireside chat at SynBioBeta London 2017.  “Evonetix has a technical approach that promises to reduce the cost of DNA synthesis by orders of magnitude but at the same time increase the accuracy and reproducibility through proprietary error-checking.”

Accurate DNA synthesis enables the understanding of the precise mechanisms of a disease, as well as how a drug would interact with it. It allows cells to be engineered so they can produce specific biopharmaceuticals as well as enabling precise cell based screening assays to be designed.

“The maturing of key enabling technologies such as inexpensive data synthesis and the availability of building bricks and processes that work make this an especially good time to invest in synthetic biology,” he adds. “DNA synthesis will be much more important than DNA sequencing.”

Co-founder of Amadeus Capital Partners, Hauser has been developing and financing companies in the information technology for more than three decades. Among the companies he co-founded Acorn Computers which spun out ARM, E-trade UK, Virata and Cambridge Network.

Hauser subsequently became vice president of research at Olivetti, where he established a global network of research laboratories. Since leaving Olivetti, Hauser has founded over 20 technology companies.

In 1997, he co-founded Amadeus Capital Partners. At Amadeus he invested in CSR, Solexa, Icera, Xmos and Cambridge Broadband.

A process that enables synthetic biologists to determine the precise order of nucleotides in a DNA molecule, DNA sequencing has been around for more than 20 years and is widely used. But DNA synthesis, which centers around creating DNA strands, is a budding industry that offers many potentially transformative possibilities, Hauser believes.

DNA synthesis can be applied to gene and cancer therapies and testing and manufacturing medications,” he notes. “It can also be used for personalized medicine—treatment tailored for specific patients and their conditions when they need it.”

Evonetix aims to collaborate with other major players in the industry and clients to ensure that biology engineering becomes a foundational part of the healthcare industry, says Hauser. “It’s amazing what you can do with these technologies in gene therapy and cancer drugs, food, and the environment.”

Don’t miss this fireside chat with Dr. Hermann Hauser and Tim Fell at SynBioBeta London 2017