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October 01, 2017 (Vol. 37, No. 17)

Gene Control Specialist Expands Its U.K. Production Facilities

The Move Was Necessary to Accommodate Demand for Its PromPTTM Technology

  • The Roslin Innovation Center is a 41,000- sq. ft. multi-purpose building. Synpromics’ officials say its location at the heart of the University of Edinburgh’s Easter Bush Campus allows for the natural development of business collaborators with lab office space situated close to the science and clinical livestock expertise.
  • Synpromics, which has developed a novel gene-control technology, moved into more than 5,000 sq. ft. of new labs and open-plan offices at the Roslin Innovation Center at the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh.

    According to CSO and founder, Michael Roberts, Ph.D., the move was necessary to accommodate demand for its PromPTTM technology. “PromPT is our unique bioinformatics engine—the culmination of over 10 years’ work—to enable data-driven synthetic promoter design,” said Dr. Roberts. “It has been hugely important in helping us build an extensive IP portfolio, for both our partners and ourselves, and is of substantial commercial value. We are particularly pleased with the suite of tightly regulated inducible promoters that we have created using our platform, and the excitement they generated at the Bioprocessing Summit in Boston [in August 2017].”

    Dr. Roberts explained that PromPT is a suite of bioinformatics tools and molecular biology techniques that allows the company to design, build, and test synthetic promoters that regulate gene expression in a highly specific manner.

    “For instance, we are able to create promoters that control expression only in a particular cell type, or in response to environmental, biological, or chemical stimuli,” he told GEN. “We assess the gene-expression profile of the target cell and condition by identifying differentially expressed genes using microarray or NGS [next-generation sequencing] technology. We have developed a number of proprietary bioinformatics scripts and algorithms that identify the enhancer elements that control the expression of those genes.”

    “We believe our databases that form part of PromPT are some of the most comprehensive resources on the understanding of gene regulation that have been developed to date. We then use novel library screening technology to resolve the precise enhancer sequences that control transcription and use these sequences as parts to build synthetic promoters using a rational engineering biology approach,” Dr. Roberts said. “The result is a novel promoter that tightly controls gene expression in the particular cell type and condition of interest, and comprises a sequence constituting a novel combination of enhancer elements that does not exist in nature and thus, can be patented.”

    Graham Whyteside, Ph.D., head of cell-line development at Synpromics, presented a poster on a panel of novel inducible promoters at Cambridge Healthtech’s Bioprocessing Summit in Boston in August 2017. Dr. Roberts pointed out that the data he presented illustrates that the company is able to create promoters that are specifically activated in response to a range of different stimuli, either environmental (e.g., hypoxia or stress) or chemical and biological, through a number of agents.

    “These promoters were developed for our viral vector bioprocessing project, where we are looking to develop improved stable producer cell lines for retroviral, lentiviral, and, (AAV) vectors,” said Dr. Roberts. “Given that a number of viral helper genes required for viral production are toxic to cells, we have developed inducible promoters so that we can tightly control the timing and amount of viral protein produced during the production process. The ultimate aim is to create stable cell lines that enable large-scale production of gene-therapy vectors, such as AAV, so that enough vector is manufacturable to treat diseases that have a much larger prevalence than orphan indications.”

     

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