Biogenes trailblazes digitalisation of biotechnology


PCR or Polymerase Chain Reaction is one major innovation that has transformed the field of molecular biology and now its impact spans other biology disciplines. At the heart of this PCR, which is known as the DNA photocopier are the primers. Primers are short single-stranded DNA fragments that bind to the DNA template that is copied. Only upon this bonding, enzymes are capable of synthesising complementary strands.

A Malaysian company is now able to synthesise primers within two hours for various DNA strands through digital technology. Dr Tam Yew Joon, Chief Scientific Officer of Biogenes Technologies shares their aspiration to be a trailblazer among molecular biology companies to support research and applications in this field via their APTFAB technology platform.

Getting the right set of functional primers plays a vital role in the overall success of the PCR reaction and is the fundamental element of the entire research. Primer length, melting temperature (TM), and high or low bondage (GC content) determine the efficiency of PCR. The desktop-size DNA synthesiser, called APTFAB Kilobaser is being introduced to the Southeast Asia region by Biogenes.

APTFAB Kilobaser is a benchtop DNA synthesiser that can be operated by anyone without any prior special training. It is a plug-and-play system that can automatically synthesise ready-to-use DNA, RNA oligos, aptamers, and molecular probes in 2 hours or less.

This scientific “instant espresso machine” is powered by a patented cartridge and microfluidic technology. It offers various advantages such as time savings, ease of use, less wastage of reagents, and keeping the researchers’ sequences confidential.

Microfluidic technology is an emerging field in molecular biotechnology that manipulates minute amounts of fluids using microchannels with dimensions of tens of micrometers to control chemical, biological, and physical processes. The microfluidic system is significantly faster, consumes 50 times fewer reagents and helps to eliminate the modification costs which involve expensive reagents.

Tam explained the three basic steps of how APTFAB-Kilobaser functions. It is as easy as entering the sequence using a touch screen or USB flash drive, inserting the microfluidic chip and the reagent cartridge for immediate DNA/RNA synthesis. The final step is to press START to get the oligo products ready to use in less than two hours.

The revolutionary cartridge system only takes between 2-3 hours of end-to-end time to synthesise ready-to-use oligo products. Tam explained three types of cartridges that can be used in the Kilobaser which are the standard DNA cartridge, 6-FAM DNA cartridges and 2’MOE RNA cartridge. With the development of the mRNA vaccine, RNA-based drug research is now on an upswing mode and 2’MOE RNA is an attractive backbone for many therapeutic approaches. RNA-based therapeutics are even enabling the treatment of previously untreatable diseases and APTFAB-Kilobaser is facilitating new possibilities for it.

“APTFAB-Kilobaser allows scientists to take the front seat in research as an important molecular tool to synthesise oligo products with the highest precision and it empowers any laboratory professionals to create DNA, RNA and aptamers,” said Tam.

APTFAB-Kilobaser will save a lot of hassle for researchers who used to buy primers from external vendors that involve tedious procurement procedures and a long delivery period. This DNA synthesizer also enables researchers to customise their primer length, melting temperature, and high or low bondage that depends on the content of guanine and cytosine.

Biogenes, established in 2015 started off as a genetic and genomics company and later embarked on aptamer-based biosensors is now trailblazing the digitalisation of biotechnology. In 2018, they moved into computational modelling and stimulation of synthetic antibodies called aptamers without the need to use an expensive wet lab discovery route. Biogenes is a pioneer in producing biosensor diagnostic kits in Malaysia and they envision bringing an array of aptamer-based biosensor rapid test kits into healthcare, agriculture, aquaculture, and animal breeding. Being well grounded in the field of molecular biotechnology, from sequencing and assembling of DNA sequences to in silico design of aptamers as ligands for biomarkers, Biogenes is now actively deploying high-performance computing resources to accelerate the roll-out of new products via the digitalisation of biotechnology. To this end, Biogenes will be offering more seed grants to researchers who seek collaboration with industry partners in this area. For more future updates, please follow Biogenes Technologies on their LinkedIn page.

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