Camena bags $10m to advance DNA synthesis technology

Synthetic biology company Camena Bioscience has closed a $10 million Series A financing round to advance its DNA synthesis technology. The funding was led by Mercia and will be used to expand operations and further develop Camena’s DNA synthesis platform, known as gSynth.

The use of synthetic genes is crucial for researchers in understanding disease mechanisms and facilitating the drug discovery process. However, Camena says that traditional DNA synthesis methods developed in the 1980s have limitations in terms of cost, time, and accuracy, especially when dealing with lengthy or complex gene sequences. The company’s technology is designed to overcome these challenges by deploying a groundbreaking enzymatic approach to precisely produce synthetic DNA.

Based in Cambridge, UK, Camena has developed an enzymatic DNA synthesis technology that the company claims is “highly accurate.” Having already secured commercial agreements with leading consumers of synthetic genes, Camena has already built a multi-million-pound revenue stream in the past year.

Camena is co-founded by CEO and genomics researcher Dr Steve Harvey, and CSO Dr Derek Stemple, a world-renowned molecular biologist.

“The ability to read, write and manipulate DNA is the foundation of the synthetic biology value chain, yet developments in DNA synthesis have not kept pace with DNA sequencing and editing capabilities,” said Harvey. “Camena’s gSynth platform is revolutionising the DNA synthesis market by unlocking access to genes and accelerating discovery pipelines.”

Designed to enable access to genes with unprecedented accuracy and speed, Camena claims gSynth achieves 90% accuracy in DNA synthesis for sequences over 300 base pairs, while traditional phosphoramidite DNA synthesis technology only reaches approximately 30% accuracy and generates substantial organic solvent waste. Camena says its approach simplifies complex supply chains and minimizes environmental impact.

“As the focus on sustainability and supply-chain security become more acute, Camena is leading the way with a green synthesis technology and is already well positioned to serve this burgeoning market,” added Harvey. “The invention of next-generation DNA sequencing technologies transformed our ability to “read” DNA. Our goal is to enable our customers to “write” DNA with the same confidence and ease.”

As part of the financing, Lee Lindley from Mercia’s investment team has joined Camena’s Board, along with Aditya Rajagopal, founder and CTO of ChromaCode, and co-founder and Executive Chairman of Esperto Medical.

“The market for synthetic genes is growing rapidly but much of the demand is for complex genes which are extremely difficult to produce accurately,” said Lindley. “Camena’s technology is a game changer that could unlock a much bigger global market. We’re excited to support Camena on its next stage of growth.”

Photograph: iuriimotov/Freepik