Crispr, the powerful gene-editing tool, is revolutionizing the speed and scope with which scientists can modify the DNA of organisms, including human cells. So many people want to use it—from academic researchers to agtech companies to biopharma firms—that new companies are popping up to staunch the demand. Companies like Synthego, which is using a combination of software engineering and hardware automation to become the Amazon of genome engineering. And Inscripta, which wants to be the Apple. And Twist Bioscience, which could be the Intel.
All these analogies to the computing industry are more than just wordplay. Crispr is making biology more programmable than ever before. And the biotech execs staking their claims in Crispr’s backend systems have read their Silicon Valley history. They’re betting biology will be the next great computing platform, DNA will be the code that runs it, and Crispr will be the programming language.
[S]cientists log on to Synthego’s design portal and pick out one of the roughly 5,000 organisms they might want to edit from Synthego’s genome library—everything from E. coli to Homo sapiens—and the gene they want to knock out.
Within a week, a delivery shows up at the lab’s doorstep: everything a lab tech needs to begin manipulating the genome of a lab rat or zebrafish or dish of HeLa cells. They simply add their Crispr protein and start injecting.
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