The University of Southampton

Biotech research partnership to advance desktop gene printer

Published: 15 December 2020
Professor Hywel Morgan is partnering with Nuclera to create a robust gene printer.

Bioelectronics expertise from the University of Southampton is supporting the development of a benchtop gene printer in a growing partnership with the UK-based Nuclera biotech company.

Professor Hywel Morgan, Head of the Biomedical Electronics Research Group, is helping accelerate the pathway to commercialisation for the new instrument that can produce highly-customisable gene-length products in a day.

The new two-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) will embed an Associate in the programme to focus on building up key functionalities, such as the novel sensing functions on the platform.

Having rapid access to highly accurate DNA, and its gene and protein sequences, will enable accelerated scientific discoveries and product development across a range of sectors, including medicine, agrobiotechnology and organism engineering.

Dr Jiahao Huang, co-founder of Nuclera, says: "The desktop instrument we are developing is a major step forward for the local synthesis of genes. Being able to produce genes at the benchtop, with all of the control and time saving it offers, has huge market potential.

"The additional expertise and even closer working relationship afforded by this KTP grant will significantly strengthen a key area of our product development."

Professor Morgan’s expertise in bio-sensors and lab-on-a-chip technologies is supporting investigation of the specific engineering steps required to create the robust gene printer. A critical element is the incorporation of a borderless fluid movement platform to provide optimum process automation.

Professor Morgan says: "It is a great opportunity to work with Nuclera to realise their dream of developing a benchtop instrument that can produce genes on demand. I am very excited by the award of the KTP, and look forward to working with Nuclera and the KTN to deliver this exciting project."

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships aim to help businesses improve their competitiveness and productivity through better use of the knowledge, technology and skills held within the UK knowledge base. This KTP project received financial support from UKRI through Innovate UK.

Jody Chatterjee, Knowledge Transfer Adviser, Knowledge Transfer Network, says: "This is an exciting project with an ambitious and innovative company. Nuclera is looking to transform the industry with its novel technology and the KTP is the perfect programme to help this happen. I am looking forward to working with the team as they deliver their game-changing desktop gene printer."

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