Maxygen: Evolution of DNA in vitro; Zaffaroni's enabling focus

Maxygen: Evolution of DNA in vitro

Recombinant DNA techniques are the unquestioned foundation of biotechnology. Maxygen Inc. hopes to take this technology to a new level, combining DNA recombination plus mutation (to generate maximal diversity) with reiterative assays (screening or selection) to rapidly improve DNA sequences.

The technology, called gene shuffling or molecular breeding, mirrors the evolutionary process as a means to generate DNAs encoding improved genes, operons (sets of genes that act together) or vector sequences, but is obviously much faster than natural evolution.

The company is based on investigational work begun in 1993 at Glaxo Wellcome's Affymax Research Institute by co-founder Willem Stemmer and colleagues. Discussions about forming an independent company started in 1996, and the official spin-off from Glaxo Wellcome-Affymax took place

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