By Joanna Glasner
Synthetic biology, which uses engineered gene sequences to create new biological systems and devices, used to be a subject for futurists and sci-fi writers.
In the last few years, however, applications of synthetic biology are regularly showing up in the business models of venture-backed healthcare companies. Startups engaged in drug, biofuel and crop development, as well as several producing tools and processes for biological research, have attracted sizable, and in some cases, exceptionally large rounds.
Venture firms have invested more than $400 million in companies with a significant synthetic biology focus since last year, according to a VCJ analysis based on Thomson Reuters data. Most of that total is for companies like Juno Therapeutics, which employ engineered gene sequences into therapies.