Engineering the future


Tim Fell and Richard Hammond

New partnership set to transform the engineering of biology

 

Product design and development firm Cambridge Consultants is joining forces with innovative software company Synthace in an ambitious bid to unlock the full potential of biology to address many of the global challenges facing the world. The partnership is aimed at boosting adoption of a powerful new platform for the engineering of biological systems – a crucial step towards groundbreaking developments such as truly personalised ‘precision’ medicine and the next generation of antibiotics.

The new platform – called Antha – has been developed by UK-based Synthace and is a programming language and operating system for engineering biology. It allows more automated ways of working and opens the door to widespread adoption and implementation of engineering practices in the biotechnology industry. As well as medical breakthroughs, this could also unlock a whole host of novel applications in areas such as consumer products.

“We’re thrilled to be collaborating with Cambridge Consultants,” said Tim Fell, CEO of Synthace. “Our goal is to help remove some of the manual, and often painstaking, work that scientists undertake in experimentation – and use software and processes which can exponentially accelerate bioscience. Combining our expertise with that of Cambridge Consultants will hopefully speed up the adoption of Antha and demonstrate our commitment to making engineering biology a widespread reality.”

The partnership between the two companies will create a ‘one-stop shop’ for clients to ensure they get the most out of Antha. Cambridge Consultants will provide consultancy services to help with effective implementation of Antha in labs – including process development, protocol development, automation integration and custom equipment development. Synthace will provide the core ‘platform as a service’, maintaining Antha and managing the cloud-hosted infrastructure.

As part of the collaboration, Cambridge Consultants will use Antha to run its in-house synthetic biology lab. “We’re delighted to partner with Synthace and lead the global proliferation of synthetic biology together, while boosting the ever-growing UK scene,” said Richard Hammond, head of synthetic biology at Cambridge Consultants. “We’re also very excited to be using Antha in our own lab to plan and manage our wetware development and show the power of this approach.”

The Antha software enables labs to define, link and execute biological experimental and analysis protocols. Using the programming language, each in-lab process is fully and unambiguously defined and can be linked to other processes to form sophisticated workflows – including decision-based and recursive workflows. These systems can then be executed using automated equipment.

The UK is a strong player in the rapidly evolving synthetic biology community – leading in Europe and second only to the US globally.

Cambridge Consultants and Synthace are exhibiting at SynBioBeta London 2017, 4-6 April 2017 at Imperial College London.

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