Synthetic Biology Resources at Cambridge

Compiled by Jim Haseloff at the University of Cambridge. SpannerPlantLogo140This site contains details of recent papers and activity in Synthetic Biology, with particular emphasis on: (i) development of standards in biology and DNA parts, (ii) microbial and (iii) plant systems, (iv) research and teaching in the field at the University of Cambridge, (v) hardware for scientific computing and instrumentation, (vi) tools for scientific productivity and collected miscellany.

Similar to the Cambridge-based Raspberry Pi and OpenLabTools initiatives, we promote the use of low cost and open source tools - in our case for use in biological engineering.

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Recent News

IMAGE A Mitochondrial DNA Transplant Could Help Treat Hundreds Of Diseases
Thursday, 08 January 2015
For the first time ever, researchers in New Zealand have shown that mitochondrial DNA can move between cells in an animal tumor. It's an extraordinary finding that could lead to an entirely new field of synthetic biology and the treatment of hundreds of diseases. Read more... Read More...
IMAGE Impossibly imaginative food landscapes. Warning: don't look if hungry.
Thursday, 08 January 2015
" 'Processed Views,' a photography series by Barbara Ciurej and Lindsay Lochman.   From the artists:   Processed Views interprets the frontier of industrial food production: the seductive and alarming intersection of nature and technology. As we move further away from the sources of our food, we... Read More...
IMAGE This tiny button could solve the IoT’s big headache
Thursday, 08 January 2015
Controlling your digital life from your smartphone, or even by voice, is great, but there are times when it'd be a whole lot more convenient to reach out and stab a physical button. That's the idea behind Flic, crowdfunding success from late last year, and here at CES to show off what you can do... Read More...
IMAGE Intel’s “Compute Stick” is a full Windows or Linux PC in an HDMI dongle
Thursday, 08 January 2015
Andrew Cunningham The Intel Compute Stick is a full PC in an HDMI dongle. 3 more images in gallery // LAS VEGAS, NEVADA—Set-top boxes and streaming sticks are decent, cost-effective ways to turn the TV you already have into a 'smart TV,' but Intel has an intriguing new option for those of you... Read More...
IMAGE A microbe found in a grassy field appears to contain a remarkably powerful antibiotic.
Thursday, 08 January 2015
A microbe found in a grassy field appears to contain a remarkably powerful antibiotic. Called teixobactin, it kills dangerous pathogens without any observable resistance (at least not yet). Moreover, it destroys many types of drug-resistant bacteria and it's safe in mammals. Its use may be limited,... Read More...
IMAGE To Save Our Ecosystems, Will We Have to Design Synthetic Creatures?
Wednesday, 07 January 2015
To Save Our Ecosystems, Will We Have to Design Synthetic Creatures?BY LIZ STINSON   Imagine someday in the distant future, years after the ‘sixth extinction’ went from theory to undeniable reality. Our ecosystems are failing, our biodiversity is dropping like flies (at least the ones that... Read More...
Synthetic Biology Market worth $5,630.4 Million by 2018 - Major Market Players - Amyris, Inc. (U.S.), DuPont (U.S.), GenScript USA Inc. (U.S.), Intrexon Corporation (U.S.) - WhaTech
Wednesday, 07 January 2015
Synthetic Biology Market worth $5,630.4 Million by 2018 - Major Market Players - Amyris, Inc. (U.S.), DuPont (U.S.), GenScript USA Inc. (U.S.), Intrexon Corporation (U.S.) WhaTech Channel: Industrial Market Research Reports The global synthetic biology market is segmented on the basis of tools,... Read More...
IMAGE 3 Tech Giants Quietly Investing in Synthetic Biology (ADSK, INTC, MSFT)
Wednesday, 07 January 2015
3 Tech Giants Quietly Investing in Synthetic Biology By Maxx Chatsko | More Articles January 7, 2015 | Comments (0) The introduction and widespread adoption of fun new gadgets, games, and services in the last 15 years has provided billions of dollars of revenues and profits to the technology... Read More...

Featured News

Progressive promoter element combinations classify conserved orthogonal plant circadian gene expression modules.
Friday, 29 August 2014
J R Soc Interface. 2014 Oct 6;11(99) Authors: Smieszek SP, Yang H, Paccanaro A, Devlin PF Abstract We aimed to test the proposal that progressive combinations of multiple promoter elements acting in concert may be responsible for the full range of phases observed in plant circadian output genes. In order to allow reliable selection of informative phase groupings of genes for our purpose,... Read More...
Preventing T7 RNA polymerase read-through transcription - a synthetic termination signal capable of improving bioprocess stability.
Friday, 29 August 2014
ACS Synth Biol. 2014 May 14; Authors: Mairhofer J, Wittwer A, Cserjan-Puschmann M, Striedner G Abstract The phage-derived T7 RNA polymerase is the most prominent orthogonal transcriptions system used in the field of synthetic biology. However, gene expression driven by T7 RNA polymerase is prone to read-through transcription due to contextuality of the T7 terminator. The native T7 terminator has... Read More...
Direct Mutagenesis of Thousands of Genomic Targets using Microarray-derived Oligonucleotides.
Friday, 29 August 2014
ACS Synth Biol. 2014 May 23; Authors: Bonde MT, Kosuri S, Genee HJ, Sarup-Lytzen K, Church GM, Sommer MO, Wang HH Abstract Multiplex Automated Genome Engineering (MAGE) allows simultaneous mutagenesis of multiple target sites in bacterial genomes using short oligonucleotides. However, large-scale mutagenesis requires hundreds to thousands of unique oligos, which are costly to synthesize and... Read More...

Renewables funding going strong

It looks like a good start for 2012 with several companies closing some good funding this month.

New Zealand-based LanzaTech announced this week that it has bagged a total of US $55.8m in its series C round of financing led by the Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund. New investors include PETRONAS Technology Ventures Sdn Bhd and Dialog Group. Existing investors such as Khosla Ventures, Qiming Venture Partners and K1W1 -- I like this name =) -- participated in the round as well. LanzaTech said the compay raised a total of more than $85m to date.

The company also gave a small update on their $5m acquisition of a US cellulosic ethanol facility now dubbed "Freedom Pines Biorefinery" located in Soperton, Georgia, which was previously owned by Range Fuels. LanzaTech said, the facility will produce renewable fuels and chemicals from waste wood using their proprietary processing technology (industrial waste gas-to-fuel/chemicals via fermentation).

Another recent news is advanced fuel developer KiOR closing a $75m four-year term loan with a lender group comprised of  an affiliate of Vinod Khosla and two Canadian corporations owned by pension fund clients of Alberta Investment Management Corp.

Waste CO2-to-fuel/chemicals developer Joule has also closed a $70m funding this month bringing a total funding round of more than $110m to date. The company did not disclose funding sources.

The proceeds will be applied towards the build-out and operation of a Joule facility located in Hobbs, New Mexico and slated for commissioning in the summer of 2012. Joule was founded by venture capital firm Flagship Ventures in 2007.

Zeachem also announced yesterday that it has been selected by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) for a $232.5m loan guarantee under the 9003 Biorefinery Assistance Program. The conditional loan enables the financing and construction of ZeaChem's first commercial-scale cellulosic biorefinery in Boardman, Oregon, with a capacity of 25m gal/year enabling the production of cellulosic ethanol and acetic acid/ethyl acetate using woody biomass.

On Wednesday, Canadian renewable chemical firm EcoSynthetix secured a $2.1m funding from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC). The funding will support EcoSynthetix's project for further development of its EcoMer® bio-based monomer platform.

The blog also received news from Bioformix CEO Adam Malofsky that the company closed a $13m funding from GM Ventures this month and is waiting to close another funding from a big Japanese multinational company soon.

Also this year, we had BASF investing $30m in cellulosic sugar developer Renmatix; Agilyx secured $25m in its series C funding; DSM investing $250m in cellulosic ethanol via its joint venture with US developer POET;  US biodiesel company Renewable Energy Group targeting $100m via its IPO filing; DuPont investing in biomass sorghum developer NextSteppe (undisclosed amount); and another sorghum developer Chromatin has been awarded $5.7m grant from the US DOE.

I've compiled a rough list of last year's financing rounds and IPOs. Hopefully, this will be useful to you.

2011 Renewable Chemicals Financing
IPO Companies Capital Raised
2/9/2011 Gevo $123.3m
5/27/2011 Solazyme $227.2m
6/24/2011 KiOR $150m
8/4/2011 EcoSynthetix $101.6m



IPO Companies Filed Target
5/2011 Myriant $125m
8/2011 Genomatica $100m
9/2011 Elevance $100m
10/2011 BioAmber $150m
12/2011 Coskata $100m
9/2011 Fulcrum BioEnergy $115m
7/2011 Cathay Industrial withdrawn in August


Companies Financing Amount
Agilyx $47m (series B and C)
Avantium $35.9m
BioAmber $45m (series B)
Cereplast $12.5m (private)
Cobalt Technologies $20m (series D)
Dyadic $3m (private)
Elevance $50m (private)
Enerkem $105m (series C)
Fulcrum Bioenergy $75m (series C)
Genomatica $45m (series D)
Gevo $17m (Lanxess)
$5m (USDA grant)
Global Bioenergies $1.98m (Synthos)
$9.3m (IPO)
LS9 $9m (DOE grant)
Materia $17m
Metabolix $6m (DOE grant)
Myriant $60m (PTTGC)
NatureWorks $150m (PTTGC)
NextSteppe $14m (series B)
OPXBio $41.2m (series C)
Plaxica $7.8m
Rivertop Renewables $3.5m (MonTEC grant)
$1.5m (venture capital)
Siluria $20m (series B)
Verenium $16m (loan)
Zeachem $24m (series C)
$40m (USDA grant)

Source: Company Reports

Renewables funding going strong: "

(Via ICIS Green Chemicals.)

Research news at Cambridge University

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European Association of Students & Postdocs in Synthetic Biology (EUSynBioS)

EUSynBioSprelimLogo240The European Association of Students & Postdocs in Synthetic Biology (EUSynBioS) invites you to join its pre-launch community. The EUSynBioS initiative seeks to shape and foster a network of young researchers active the nascent scientific discipline of synthetic biology within the European Union by means of providing an integrative central resource for interaction and professional development.

Key objectives of EUSynBioS include i) the implementation of a central web platform for sharing news and opportunities relevant to members of the community as well as for academic networking, ii) the arrangement and support of events for academic exchange and professional development, iii) liaison with representatives of industry, and iv) establishment of a primary contact for collaboration and exchange with related communities of synthetic biology students and postdocs abroad.

Registering as a member is free and can be completed within 30 seconds via the following link http://www.eusynbios.org/students-and-postdocs/join Students and postdocs who register as a EUSynBioS member will be able to:
o Access a large network of young researchers in synthetic biology for academic collaboration and exchange
o Share technical resources and teaching materials
o Stay informed about relevant events such as conferences, workshops, or social outings o Browse relevant jobs in academia and industry
o Use site visits and mentoring opportunities to interact with prospective employers
o Connect with members of related communities all over the world

By registering as a member prior to the official launch of EUSynBioS, you will not only make a statement of support which will have an impact on the resources available to the community in the future; you will also be given the chance to actively shape EUSynBioS right from the start, and have an edge when applying for a position on the Steering Committee. We are looking forward to your joining us ! Christian Boehm, University of Cambridge.