Genetic engineering startup Synthego makes synthetic ribonucleic acid (RNA), an important genetic component found in all living cells and also used in CRISPR Cas9, a technology enabling scientists to rip out unwanted genetic code with scissor-like precision.
The company was founded four years ago by brothers Paul and Michael Dabrowski. The two left SpaceX where they both worked as rocket engineers. Neither of them has a biotech background and the original plan was to start a company building tools to automate the lab process.
The two eventually happened upon a process to make synthetic RNA they say helps scientists shorten the time it takes them to use the CRISPR gene editing technique from weeks to days and at a fraction of the cost.
Synthego has so far pulled in just under $50 million in funding from a group of investors including Founders Fund, 8VC, Menlo Ventures, OS Fund, Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang and famed CRISPR co-discoverer Jennifer Doudna, who hailed the startup’s first product a “significant leap forward in synthetic biology.”
Though the company is hanging their hat on CRISPR, the technology is not without flaws. For one, it’s not always precise and there’s a reason U.S. regulators and the scientific community urge caution in the space.
The funding is also just a drop in the bucket compared to what’s needed to help most biotech companies to scale. Synthego’s founders surely have greater ambitions than just one synthetic product and will likely need more capital as they move forward. We’ll chat with Paul, who is acting chief executive of the company, on stage at Disrupt New York in a few weeks about what’s ahead for his startup and the future of CRISPR technology.
Disrupt NY runs May 15 to May 17, and Dabrowski joins a cast of all-star speakers. You can check out the agenda here.
Tickets to Disrupt NY can be purchased here.
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