November 15, 2013 | Last week, the German-Spanish biotech company Sygnis announced the validation of another novel polymerase for handling tricky DNA amplification scenarios, with a paper in Molecular Cell describing the action of the enzyme PrimPol. Unlike any previously known polymerase, PrimPol acts as both a polymerase and primase, creating the RNA template primers for DNA replication and then building new DNA strands off of that scaffolding. This eliminates the need to match an appropriate primase to the polymerase used in DNA amplification. While PrimPol is present and active in human cells, a version of the enzyme found in thermophilic bacteria has the additional benefit of remaining active at extremely high temperatures. Sygnis claims that PrimPol is unusually tolerant of chemical damage to DNA suffered during storage or as a result of cellular stresses, making it potentially useful for applications like forensics where damaged DNA is common.
With a share issuance in October that raised $3.6 million in preparation for a scaleup of the product line, and a deal inked with QIAGEN for the marketing of the company's earlier polymerase, the rapid-reaction QualiPhi that has shown promise in small-sample amplification, Sygnis is preparing for a larger entrance into the DNA amplification market, filling niche roles where the most commonly used polymerases struggle to maintain speed and accuracy.