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Synthetic Biology Fuel Company Secures $3.6M in Venture Funding

OPX Biotechnologies, a new company dedicated to enabling economically viable biofuels and biorefined chemicals through the genetic engineering of microbes, has secured $3.6 million in venture funding led by MDV (Mohr Davidow Ventures). OPX also appointed Robert B. Chess as Chairman and CEO and established its board of directors.

OPX, founded off the work of University of Colorado professors Ryan Gill and Michael Lynch, uses a first-of-its-kind, massively parallel, full genome search technology platform known as SCALEs (SCalar Analysis of Library Enrichments). SCALEs allows researchers to find and identify causative genes and then test gene modifications to achieve the characteristics needed for specific fuel and chemical products 1,000 to 5,000 times faster than conventional methods, according to the company.

With SCALES, genomic DNA fragmented to several specific sizes is ligated into vectors creating several libraries with defined insert sizes. These libraries are then individually transformed into the cell line used for selections. The pools of transformants are mixed and subjected to selection.

Only clones bearing plasmids with insert increasing fitness survive. Enriched plasmids are purified from the selected population, prepared for hybridization and then applied to a microarray. After analyzing the microarray signal, the processed signal is treated as a function of sequence position. A nonlinear multiscale decomposition gives the signal not only as a function of position but also as a function of scale or library size.

The ability to understand rapidly the workings of microbes at the individual gene level and test a huge number of modifications simultaneously enables the engineering of new microbes that can provide major improvements in tolerance, productivity, and specificity for fuel and chemical production.

OPX has the potential to address one of the great challenges of our time—meeting the tremendous demand for renewable fuels and chemicals that are cost competitive and superior to petroleum-based products with far lower carbon emissions. Their proprietary, first of its kind massively parallel, full genome search and gene modification technology platform is a major breakthrough in synthetic biology that could vastly reduce the time it takes to design the microbes needed for economically viable biofuels and biorefined chemicals.

—Erik Straser, MDV general partner

MDV led this second round of financing with X/Seed Capital and Rob Chess also participating. OPX received seed financing from X/Seed in June, 2007.

Rob Chess also serves as Chairman of Nektar Therapeutics, a company that develops improved pharmaceutical products using its innovative drug delivery platforms. The OPX Board of Directors includes MDV’s Erik Straser, X/Seed’s Michael Borrus, Professor Ryan Gill, a co-founder of the company and the Patten Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at University of Colorado, and Rob Chess as Chairman and CEO.




I personally have a lot of time for this end of town where the intention is to assist the environment through understanding the wold we live in.
This is not very popular amongst the more religious including many from the green movement.
My problem is the same as I have with fundamentalist conventional religious types who adhere to dogma to the extent that a discusion is either out of the question or if one gets past that door, filled with anxiety clouded emotion.
These sorts of reacions do and rightly should sound alarm bells in my head as well so that what is in everyones interest - A balanced and informed discussion, seldom takes place.
This is clearly unsatisfactory as the fear generated and views , wich could be of assistance and help guide the science dont meet on any usefull level.
Some points.
1: We better understand that mad scientists
"I'm proud to be called a nerd" will do this science anyway. Any observation of whats happening will confirm this.
2: The environment we live can no longer be called a natural environment and the reason I can say this is that humankind has so disturbed the natural systems that they simply cannot cope.
When we disturb nature to this extent is has been said, we are resposible to ensure its continued function.
It is by our hand that these problems arose and it will be by our hand that the problems resolve - or not.
3: I would be foolish to pretend I have much of an idea what lies ahead here, but the predictive tools for buisness as usual and the future - dawing on the recent past suggest that more of the same thinking or way of doing buisness (we shoudn't think we can spend our way out of this) means the populations and the ecosystem are looking for some radical new ways.
4: I want to see more information, more reasoned discusson,please.


I love this place
The best I have ever been to!

Strange how Mother nature (global warning)finally got fed up with humans on the 3rd rock from the sun and we are now "inhaling" more than 3 times the amount of CO2 avg. world wide (used to be 330 ppm) and the water is rising (An Inconvenient truth)they didnt want to listen to a President that should have "BEEN" well he got a NOBEL PRIZE! and the US went to war on (lie's) see the VIPs that blew the whistle!on the net.

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