Modular Genetics, Inc. has developed an automated gene engineering system, CombiGenix(TM), which can accomplish any gene engineering task. Modular can synthesize modify and recombine genes to create novel recombinant DNA molecules by the thousands. By linking this capability to our sophisticated, proprietary protein design tools and high throughput screening, Modular has created an automated platform for the evolution of proteins with enhanced functions. The CombiGenix(TM) system is covered by issued and pending US and foreign patents.
Industrial biotechnology can be seen today in many different areas, including, bioplastics, semisynthetic drugs, biodiesel, biosurfactants, and commodity chemical feedstocks. New bio-based products have come on the market offering a superior cost/performance ratio. There has been a replacement of fossil oil and natural gas by carbohydrates from renewable resources. In addition, chemical synthesis is now switching to biotech as fermentation and biocatalysis are becoming more important. According to a study by McKinsey & Co., it is estimated that by 2010, about 20% of the global chemical market will involve industrial biotech production. Modular's proprietary technology is being used in this area to fulfill unmet market needs.
Protein therapeutics are among the most successful drugs, both as effective therapies and in revenue generation. However, the therapeutic index of drugs based on naturally occurring proteins, such as the clotting/anti-clotting factors, cytokines, and hormones, is often limited because their function is a result of evolution and not of rational design. Using its proprietary technology and protein evolution platform, Modular Genetics is taking a different and better approach, developing improved therapeutics through rational design, rapid prototyping, and multiple-function testing.
Certain bacteria and fungi use a set of unusual enzymes called nonribosomal peptide synthetases to make a large range of structurally and biologically diverse peptides. Many of these molecules are the basis for pharmacores for the pharmaceutical industry and have led to important drug discoveries including antibiotics (penicillins, cephalosporins), anticancers, and immunosuppressive agents. As a demonstration of a better way to create libraries of natural product pharmacores, Modular is rearranging and recombining the functional domains of the nonribosomal peptide synthetases from various organisms to create strains that make novel cyclic and noncyclic polypeptides. The potential number of novel structures is vast, since synthetases are capable of using the twenty natural amino acids and greater than 300 "unnatural" ones, and the synthetases can be engineered to create peptide chains of any desired length. Modular is using rational design to focus on the generation of drug-like molecules and is developing high throughput screens for desired functions.