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Inscripta Acquires Former Illumina Team via Solana Biosciences to Commercialize Gene Editing Tools

September 5, 2018

Inscripta (formerly Muse Bio), a gene-editing startup that earlier this year raised a $55 million Series C funding round, has acquired Solana Biosciences, a life sciences company offering consulting, raw material manufacturing, and commercialized complex reagents and instruments for the industry.

Gene editing is generally defined as the process of altering a species’ genetic characteristics without introducing any foreign DNA; the inclusion of foreign DNA largely defines how the term GMO is understood precluding gene editing from GMO regulation in the US.

Solana was founded in 2017 by a team of former employees of Illumina, the leading genetic tools provider, which guided the launch and production of hundreds of products – including market-leading DNA sequencing solutions, according to a press release. “During their time at Illumina, Solana’s founders and team members successfully built adaptable and scalable manufacturing operations, enabling the rapid growth of innovative products that today represent billions of dollars in annual revenue.”

Inscripta’s business is based on selling gene-editing tools to researchers, including enzymes, instruments, reagents, and software with improved capabilities for multiple genome-editing applications.  As part of its marketing plan for these tools, Inscripta decided to give away its CRISPR enzymes — MADzymes — for free. Put simply, the enzymes are the “scissors” that cut DNA strands where edits are to be based. Cas9 is the enzyme in the most famous iteration of the CRISPR suite of gene editing tools.

Inscripta announced its first CRISPR enzyme, CRISPR-MAD7, in December 2017 and is giving away the enzyme for commercial, academic, or R&D use. Inscripta charges a fee for reselling the enzyme itself, for certain high-value applications, and for custom enzyme development. CRISPR Cas9 is already free to academic researchers, so providing the enzyme for commercial development is what’s different here. Further, the royalties charged in relevant cases are below the industry standard, CEO Kevin Ness told AgFunderNews in February.

“Inscripta is building the tools to take on the next frontier of gene-editing discoveries. The addition of the Solana team brings world-class scientific product development, manufacturing, and operations experience to further enable Inscripta to provide the best gene-editing tools to both commercial and academic researchers,” said Kevin Ness, CEO of Inscripta.

Following the acquisition, Inscripta will expand operations and obtain a new office in the life sciences hub of San Diego. Tom Rosso, co-founder of Solana Biosciences and former vice president of operations at Illumina, will become vice president of operations at Inscripta and will lead the process development, technology transfer, manufacturing, and operations teams at the company.

“Solana is passionate about creating and introducing innovative tools to the life sciences industry. We are excited to join a team of top scientists and developers at Inscripta to further empower researchers in the emerging gene-editing field,” said Rosso. “Together, our team will design, build, and commercialize a new suite of tools that will revolutionize life sciences.”

A representative for Inscripta would not disclose the size of the deal.

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