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Benchling Launches the First Complete Solution for RNA R&D to Accelerate mRNA and RNA Therapeutics Development

Nearly half (44%) of top 50 biopharma companies are now involved in RNA work sparking new demand for tools purpose built for the full spectrum of RNA R&D.

SAN FRANCISCO, September 7, 2022 — Benchling, the R&D Cloud powering the biotechnology industry, today launched the industry’s first full set of capabilities for designing, modeling, and studying both natural and chemically modified RNA in a single solution. As the biopharmaceutical industry increases its focus on developing RNA therapeutics, Benchling’s new RNA solution is the first purpose-built offering on the market to help R&D organizations accelerate the delivery of drug candidates. Featuring an RNA-aware registry with visualization tools for oligo and mRNA design and the only tool with support for chemical modification of mRNA sequences, RNA biologists and chemists can now collaborate more efficiently, standardize their work across teams, and develop drug candidates faster

Following the successful deployment of RNA technology in the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines, biopharma companies have quickly shifted their pipelines to uncover therapeutic opportunities with RNA and mRNA. RNA therapeutics include a diverse group of therapeutic molecules that range from mRNA vaccines to antisense oligos, RNA-based gene therapy, and guide RNA-based CRISPR complexes. The unique function of these molecules, combined with the ability to adjust key properties through chemical modification or conjugation, has opened up novel ways of treating and preventing diseases. Nearly half (44%) of top 50 global biopharma companies are involved in RNA work through their own pipelines, M&A, or strategic alliances, based on GlobalData research. Venture capital has also invested $3 billion into RNA-based therapies in 2020 alone, according to Nature.

While RNA therapeutics hold tremendous potential to impact human health, the R&D tools to create, test, and develop these molecules have been severely limited. Traditional chemistry tools cannot model the intricacies of RNA biology, while biology tools ignore the chemistry involved with RNA modifications altogether. As a result, there has not been a single software solution to date that addresses the combined biological and chemical nature of RNA therapeutics. Scientists have had to contend with manual, low-throughput, and disconnected software to manage their R&D work. Meanwhile, 82% of the pipeline of disclosed RNA and nucleotide therapeutics is in the research or preclinical stage of development.

“We’re at a tipping point for RNA therapeutics, having figured out tough challenges like durability and stability, the industry is now looking for the right tools to accelerate RNA R&D,” said Ashu Singhal, co-founder and president of Benchling. “Covid vaccines were really just the beginning –- as we put more tools in the hands of scientists to help support their RNA therapeutics R&D, this field will really take off. With Benchling’s new RNA capabilities, scientists can now design, develop, and test a new mRNA vaccine or RNA cancer treatment from start to finish on a single platform.”

"RNA has nearly unlimited potential to cure a wide range of diseases. Benchling's full set of purpose-built tools for RNA therapy development is going to enable us to realize this potential at an even greater pace than before," said Francois Vigneault, co-founder and CEO of Shape Therapeutics, an RNA technology company advancing programmable medicine and a longtime Benchling customer. "We are excited to see Benchling's continued investment in RNA innovation, and appreciate their commitment to helping companies like ShapeTX accelerate next-generation biopharma solutions."

Benchling’s complete RNA solution is available today, and scientists working in RNA and mRNA therapeutics, RNA-based gene therapy, and gene editing will benefit from: 

  • Faster RNA design. Scientists can design RNA sequences more efficiently with easy navigation between monomer- and sequence-level views. They can use “find and replace” to execute chemical modifications more easily across entire sequences and reduce the need for manual, tedious effort. Benchling’s design tool helps scientists standardize their design work, minimize errors, and ensure sequence uniqueness during registration.

  • Simplified collaboration. All teams across the entire RNA R&D lifecycle can now operate on a single platform. With a full end-to-end solution, teams working on RNA across biology and chemistry in both research and development can share, search, and find their work output. This reduces the need for multiple handoffs and back-and-forth communication. 

  • Higher quality data and insights. Scientists can now standardize and improve accuracy of RNA sequence design, including management of chemical modifications and uniqueness checks during registration. The standardization and centralization ensure high data integrity and improve data traceability. Any changes in structure can be directly associated with experimental results. As a result, scientists can aggregate data faster and make more data-driven decisions easily.  

Along with the general availability launch of the RNA full solution, Benchling is making additional new product features generally available, including:

  • Updated sequence design and analysis: Scientists candesign and analyze DNA, RNA, and amino acid sequences with intelligent tools that boost throughput and reduce manual work to support research. With updated DNA alignments, Benchling now supports more algorithms and provides a step-by-step wizard tool to perform a single alignment or many alignments in bulk. 

  • Workflows and modern LIMS updates: New features in Benchling’s workflows promote mapping and executing of complex, interconnected activities — from developing, testing, recording, reviewing and approving, to sharing key information with authorized users  — for connected & compliant sample management. 

  • New integrations: Benchling now integrates with AlphaFold (a beta feature) that allows users to generate, interact with, and share 3D protein structures of novel proteins. In addition, Benchling is now directly integrated with genome database Ensembl and customers now pull all genomic sequences and data directly from Ensembl’s APIs.

Benchling’s mission is to unlock the power of biotechnology by creating modern software for modern science that empowers R&D teams to focus more time on science (not their software)! To learn more about Benchling and these new capabilities, please visit the company’s What’s New page. 

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