DNA Printing Promises New Wave of Biotech Innovation

Nobody could accuse startup biotech companies like Gen9, Cambrian Genomics and Twist Bioscience of failing to think big enough. Along with a handful of other firms in the booming DNA business, they’re doing nothing less than manufacturing the building blocks of life—and in the process laying the groundwork for a new generation of biotech innovation.

Over the past decade scientists have become adept at identifying the structure of DNA—the molecule that defines the nature of organisms—with the process known as DNA sequencing. They’ve also figured out how to create new sequences of DNA by mixing and matching proteins, the basis of genetically modified foods and many other types of products. The next step is actually creating, or “printing,” entirely new strands of DNA at scale.

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The big hope for the industry is that the dramatic improvements in technology and falling prices will foster a biological software boom. Already an industry of service providers and resellers is developing.