Oct 23, 2023

Our Investment in Aclid

Aclid is building the security and safety API layer for synthetic biology.

Julie Wolf

Biology is becoming easier to design

Biology is undergoing a remarkable transformation. The DNA sequencing revolution allowed us to easily ‘read’ DNA, and scientists are now investigating new ways to ‘write’ both DNA and RNA for a multitude of applications. Major advances in the last 5 years have decreased the cost of gene synthesis and increased accessibility of on-site DNA synthesis technologies. 

This quickly shifting landscape has paved the way for new possibilities of genetic design. Combined with recent advances in computational approaches like gen AI, the process of designing, building, and testing will now move faster than ever. With increased accessibility comes increased inherent risk, however, and raises a critical question: Where are the guardrails for DNA programming?

Aclid ensures safer and better DNA products

Aclid is a key player in ensuring the safety of biodesign within the rapidly evolving bioeconomy landscape. The company has developed a cutting-edge screening platform that enables DNA manufacturers across the globe to thoroughly evaluate DNA designs and identify any sequences that may have adverse effects. 

Furthermore, Aclid's screening platform extends its application to real-time biosurveillance across various domains. By rapidly sifting through large environmental DNA sequence sets, the product enables authorities to receive timely alerts upon detecting a range of predefined sequences. Aclid's platform offers the flexibility of configuring multiple combinations of alert sequences, making it adaptable and highly effective in diverse settings.

Aclid’s team are thought leaders in the space

We first met CEO Kevin Flyangolts when we led his pre-seed round in 2021. At that time, we were already impressed with his strong tech background and quick pick-up of new information. Recognizing the programmability of nucleic acid molecules like DNA and RNA, Kevin saw the opportunity to apply his expertise in building solutions to the DNA/RNA manufacturing space. He partnered with scientific co-founder, Professor at Columbia University Harris Wang, a prominent figure in synthetic biology, to create a specialized solution for the synbio community.

We have continued to be impressed by Kevin’s leadership in the time we have worked with him. While building the product, Kevin has solidified Aclid’s commitment to biosecurity through participation in the International Gene Synthesis Consortium, an influential group of industry leaders dedicated to shaping the future of biosecurity and innovation. This combination of technical expertise and policy engagement positions Aclid as a leader not only in the technology sector but also in policy discussions crucial to the biodesign field.

Aclid is ahead of the (regulatory) curve

Aclid’s current customers recognize the importance of its product. But a greater regulatory push may soon require broader screening of synthesized nucleic acids. 

The Department of Health and Human Services has recently strengthened its 2010 Screening Framework Guidance for Providers of Synthetic Double-Stranded DNA to include short DNA fragments (called oligonucleotides) and gene synthesis equipment, including bench-top DNA synthesizers. The Securing Gene Synthesis Act, introduced in July 2023, would further strengthen requirements as it mandates providers to comply with screening regulations. 

At 2048 Ventures, our thesis is that software underpins the ability of biology to go faster - and that includes the best security software for fast and accurate screening. Kevin's vision for the biosecurity platform for DNA and RNA synthesis ensures both unhindered scientific progress and the safety and efficacy of gene and genome synthesis building blocks.

We are pleased to co-lead Aclid’s round with IA Ventures, who share this vision of the future. We are joined by Coalition Operators and CoFound Partners in supporting Kevin and the Aclid team.

Learn more about Aclid on their website, through their press release, and follow Kevin on LinkedIn for additional insights into DNA screening technologies.

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