Genosys Biotechnologies Inc. of The Woodlands, Texas, thenation's largest commercial producer of customoligonucleotides, has announced what it says is a rapid andreliable method to manufacture genes. The company alreadyhas synthesized three genes of up to 1,200 base pairs (bp), saidTim McGrath, Genosys vice president of marketing.

Genosys also plans to introduce an automated device to purifyoligonucleotides at today's Federation of American Societies forExperimental Biology (FASEB) meeting in Atlanta.

The new device cleaves, deprotects and purifies synthesizedoligonucleotides in two hours, said McGrath.

The gene manufacturing technique, called solid phase geneassembly, was developed by Genosys co-founder and BaylorCollege of Medicine faculty member Kenneth L. Beattie, Ph.D.Genosys has an exclusive license to the technology from Baylor.The company will offer gene assembly as a service, saidMcGrath. He said the company is now ready to accept orders,but has not yet set a price on the service. Genosys sellsoligonucleotides for $200 and promises delivery within 48hours of a fax order.

The new technique entails synthesizing a gene fromoligonucleotides (oligos) on a solid support. Like the techniqueused to synthesize oligos from nucleotides, solid phase geneassembly immobilizes the first oligo on a support andsequentially adds oligos in the correct order. Synthesis of a1,000-bp gene requires two hours, said McGrath. He added,"The technique seems so obvious now, but many researcherswho synthesize genes did not believe it would work."

Using this technique, scientists do not need to worry aboutsorting out the proper gene from improperly assembled genesas they do in the traditional method of mixing a group of oligosin solution to construct a gene, he said.

Genosys' revenues for 1990 were just under $2.5 million.McGrath predicts revenues will reach $3 million in 1991.

-- Carol Talkington Verser, Ph.D. Special to BioWorld

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.