DNA Script tallies up $165M to help launch its desktop DNA printer

DNA helix forming inside a test tube
DNA Script's technology uses four specially prepared genetic “inks” to assemble genetic code letter by letter. (Getty Images)

Following the launch of its benchtop DNA printer earlier this year, DNA Script has secured a hefty $165 million to take its platform to the masses.

The nine-digit proceeds represent a big leap in DNA Script’s funding, bringing the startup’s lifetime venture capital total up to $280 million since it launched in 2014.

“We believe DNA printers have the potential to become as ubiquitous as sequencers and microscopes,” said Aaron Weiner, managing director and healthcare head at Coatue Management, which co-led the company’s series C round alongside Catalio Capital Management, in a statement. Weiner highlighted DNA Script’s plug-and-play approach, which weaves custom DNA for use in CRISPR applications, the development of cancer sequencing tests and even the long-term storage of data. 

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The round was supported by new investors Fidelity Management and Research, Columbia Threadneedle Investments, Arrowmark Partners, Farallon Capital and Moore Strategic Ventures. Returning backers included Casdin Capital, LSP, Illumina Ventures, Bpifrance Large Venture Fund, Danaher Life Sciences, Agilent Technologies, M Ventures, Kurma Partners and Alexandria Venture Investments.

“We’re excited to have such a strong syndicate of long-term investors that will help us grow the company, as we plan to aggressively expand the company by hiring over a hundred personnel,” said DNA Script’s co-founder and CEO, Thomas Ybert.

The company’s Syntax platform debuted this past June, with an automated nucleic acid printer powered by DNA-synthesizing enzymes within a water-based solution. Using four specially prepared genetic “inks”—G, A, T and C—the strings of genetic code are assembled letter by letter, before being delivered in a purified, ready-to-use format without the need for potentially toxic chemical reactions.

The machine can print DNA oligos up to 60 nucleotides long while running overnight, with the entire process taking about 13 hours, while shorter strings of 20 nucleotides take about six hours.

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“DNA Script’s DNA printing platform, enabled by their Enzymatic DNA Synthesis technology, is a game-changer we believe will be a driving force in revolutionizing personalized medicine and more,” said George Petrocheilos, co-founder and managing partner of Catalio Capital.

Earlier this year, DNA Script partnered with Moderna in a project backed by the U.S. government to develop on-demand vaccines and therapeutics. With $5 million from the  Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, better known as DARPA, the companies aim to link DNA Script’s printing technology with Moderna’s mRNA programs, to provide a mobile manufacturing platform against new pandemic threats.

The companies envision a small, container-sized factory that can be deployed anywhere and programmed on the spot to quickly produce vaccines and treatments to fight emerging viruses.