A new device for massive CRISPR screening

At SynBioBeta’19 conference, Inscripta launched a new platform for automatic generation and screening of mutations. The device, called Onyx, will allow up to 10,000 parallel edits in bacteria and yeasts.

Mutation screening is as old as the science of genetics. From early days of hunting for fruit fly mutants to modern-day CRISPR-based screens, mutations had always fueled genetic discoveries. Recent few years have seen endeavors to screen a massive number of mutations (for instance: https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nbt.4147), which are now being distilled to automatization projects.

One of the first such devices debuts as a laboratory-in-a-box, offered with software and reagents. Although technical details are still not disclosed, Inscripta ascribes to the Onyx capabilities of “managing, engineering, and tracking individual cells” of E. coli and S. cerevisiae. The device will probably use Inscripta’s version of CRISPR system, MAD7. As early presentations suggest, genetic modifications will rely on stretches of designed guide RNAs with homology arms, and with barcodes.

Example usage of the platform was published in 2018 under https://doi.org/10.15252/msb.20188371. Scientists generated 16 thousand mutations in the lysine metabolism pathway. A more recent example was presented (source) at SynBioBeta:

Onyx is expected to be commercially available this year.

Update (3rd October): Akos Nyerges informs that the cost of the device will be over 340,000 US$.

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