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Precision CRISPR Engineering Startup Guide BioSci Named Runner-Up in IDT Synthetic Biology Grant Contest

This article is sponsored by Integrated DNA Technologies.

Guide Biosci has been named runner-up in IDT’s new Synthetic Biology Grant Program and will be receiving 50,000 base pairs of DNA from IDT’s synthetic biology product line, a value of approximately $7,500. The contest was founded this year with the mission of supporting scientists-turned-entrepreneurs with young startups that are dedicated to improving human health, the environment, or humanitarian causes.

Guide BioSci

Guide Biosci is a startup that is developing tools for precision genome engineering with the goal of enabling curative gene therapy. Dr. Keith Gagnon is founder and CEO of the company and its platform is a spinout of his lab’s research at Southern Illinois University. The Gagnon Lab specializes in enzymatic systems that utilize guide RNA, the most well-known of which is CRISPR-Cas9.

CRISPR is undoubtedly one of the brightest rising stars in synthetic biology and its versatility is growing rapidly. But the technique is relatively new and far from perfect, especially for use in human medical applications. Remaining barriers in the deployment of CRISPR include low editing efficiencies and risk of off-target effects. In order to optimize the safety and productivity of CRISPR as a tool for the field of synthetic biology, especially human therapeutics, solutions are needed. Guide Biosci is responding to this need in innovative ways. 

Guide Biosci’s approach involves modifying and refining the enzymes involved in CRISPR in order to address existing problems with the technique. The company also seeks to expand upon existing uses for CRISPR systems and make the technology even more versatile. Noting that 1 in 10 people are born with a genetic disorder that could be cured with genome engineering, the company’s goal is to transform CRISPR into a therapeutics-ready technology while also developing revolutionary uses for RNA-guided enzymes. 

One of the best ways of maximizing impact is to focus on leverage points to remove constraints. By providing grant awardees with access to critical raw materials for synthetic biology, IDT aims to support companies like Guide Biosci that represent a critical link in the chain connecting laboratory innovation to industry to real-world applications.

This article is sponsored by Integrated DNA Technologies.


Christine Stevenson

Christine Stevenson is a freelance science writer and adjunct professor of biology at the Maricopa Community Colleges in the Phoenix metropolitan area. She holds an M.S. in Biology from Arizona State University and has a background in both wet lab research and venture capital consulting. She lives in Tempe, AZ with her dogs, cats, chickens, and goat.

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