Kevin Holden is the Head of Synthetic Biology at Synthego. Mr. Holden holds a PhD in Microbiology from University of California, Davis. He has over 10 years of experience in the biotechnology arena, with specific study and research in synthetic biology as well as in engineering, notably—metabolic pathways in microbes.
Synthego’s primary work is focused in software and synthetic RNA kits designed for CRISPR genome research and editing. Synthego uses AI and machine learning to assist researchers and developers with automation for genome engineering that provides for efficient research with consistent results, at a price point that allows for savings. With a strong background in engineering, Synthego’s team applies engineering principles to synthetic biology practices, especially for gene editing.
Holden’s company, Synthego, works with hardware and software and utilizes advanced machine learning to assist in research platforms and technology, such as the CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology. CRISPR is the acronym for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, which are the distinctive feature of a complete bacterial defense system and the foundation for CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology. Synthego’s hardware platform allows for the synthesization of RNA, to guide CRISPR technology to a specific place on the genome in order to make an edit. Holden discusses how Synthego’s automation allows scientists to skip steps traditionally needed for method development and thus focus their efforts more immediately on their actual research, as Synthego can provide gene edited cells directly to them.
The synthetic biology expert explains some of the various areas that his company is currently focused on. In particular, Holden’s team is very excited about the potential for their work to be of particular use to researchers working with monogenic, or single gene, diseases, including single gene mutations. Miraculously, cells can be extracted from a patient, edited, tested, and then ex vivo transplanted back into a patient to cure the disease. Edited, corrected cells, once implanted into the patient then grow new cells void of the mutation that was once causing the disease.
Holden also provides a detailed analysis of their work in the amazing area known as CAR T-cell therapy. CAR T-cell therapy is the process in which a patient’s immune system cells, or T cells, are edited so they will then begin to attack cancer cells upon reintroduction into the body.
As the microbiology PhD explains, enabling scientists to obtain gene-edited cells for research will greatly facilitate, and accelerate, the complex study of disease and thus allow for new therapies to become available to the public sooner. Synthego’s tech decreases time ordinarily spent on model building so scientists’ efforts go directly into the research. And Holden explains how AI algorithms are best utilized within large data sets in order to train models.
But perhaps one of the most significant uses of this technology will be in the breeding of plants, to engineer them to produce more efficiently, become resistant to disease and even drought, and thus aid in providing needed food for the world. With so many uses for synthetic biology practices and gene editing, it’s clear that engineering-based companies such as Synthego will be riding the wave of many coming breakthroughs in medicine and science for years to come.