Germany's Geneart, a specialist in synthetic biology, is expecting strong growth in 2008 on the back of strong demand for gene synthesis.
The biotech company upped sales in 2007 by 59 per cent to €12.3m, helped by a major contract from the US National Institutes of Health, and saw its earnings increase by 80 per cent to €1.8m. It now plans to reinvest €2.5m in research projects to help achieve even more growth in 2008.
"The synthetic biology industry has new needs for entire genomes. We see ourselves at the beginning of this new technology and there is an expected growth for the next 5-10 years," said Bernd Merkl, a Geneart spokesperson.
"We also see our core technology is to develop the use of modified enzymes and think they could become a replacement for some traditional methods for genetic modification."
Geneart intends to capitalise on recent sales growth will spend €2.5m on further research and development this year, 40 per cent of is financed with public research grants.
"One of the major research and development projects is to develop an automated and integrated process to produce complex genes," said Merkl. "We are researching a laboratory management system to maintain such an assembly line, which would reduce time and costs for these products."
Professor Ralf Wagner, CEO of Geneart, said the company's award of a large NIH contract drove the financial performance in 2007, as did developments in automation which enabled a doubling in capacity.
The NIH contract was the largest gene synthesis order and Geneart produced more than 3,500 in part highly complex gene sequences to complement the Human Gene Collection. From this order, Geneart advanced the methods for the production of complex genes and gene clusters which could provide a technological platform for them to be global leaders in the emerging field of synthetic biology.
Geneart also supported the assembly of the first synthetic bacterial genome by the J. Craig Venter Institute and provided parts of the custom designed building blocks. The research results show great potential for implementation, such as a greener and cheaper production of biofuel, the efficient manufacturer of drugs and the degradation of environmental pollutants.
"We have further advanced our technologies and were therefore able to synthesize a large number of constructs of to date unknown complexity in the course of the NIH project," said Wagner.
"At the same time, the further development of our degree of automation enabled us to double our production capacity to two million base pairs per month as planned."