U.S. oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp. has renewed a deal with local biotech Synthetic Genomics Inc. to jointly research algae biofuels.
The renewal of the deal follows the duo’s “significant progress in understanding algae genetics, growth characteristics, and increasing oil production,” according to a joint statement.
Exxon and Synthetic Genomics have been researching oil from algae as a lower-emission alternative to gasoline since 2009. The renewed agreement will lean on Synthetic Genomics’ strengths in synthetic biology, and builds on recent discoveries in the field.
“Together with Exxon Mobil, we have made significant strides to identify and enhance algal strains capable of high oil production while still maintaining desirable rates of growth,” said Oliver Fetzer, chief executive officer of Synthetic Genomics, in a statement. “The extension of our agreement reflects the tremendous progress made to date, and the promise in using our core synthetic biology technologies to build cell production systems capable of reshaping industries.”
The deal with Exxon comes on the heels of Synthetic Genomics’ partnership with Janssen Pharmaceuticals to develop new RNA-based therapies, along with the launch of Vmax Express, a fast-growing organism the company engineered to be the new workhorse of the biotech industry. The recent developments showcase the company’s ability to apply its tools and expertise to build products across several industries.