NEWSLETTER

Top 10 Biotech IPOs in 2020 & How to Get to Mars

Cell Crunch (Issue 2021.02.19)

Niko McCarty
Feb 19 · 4 min read

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Curiosity on Mars. [Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center | CC-BY 2.0]

In the initial phase of the process […] the scientist works through imagination, as does the artist. Only later, when critical testing and experimentation come into play, does science diverge from art.

François Jacob (translated from French).

📰 Bioengineering in the News

I wish I could engineer my metabolism.

MARS WITHIN REACH: Perseverance made it to Mars. But for humans to do the same, we will need biotechnology; this article takes a look at European companies developing technologies that will help heal astronauts, grow food and produce clean oxygen. Labiotech.eu. Link

GENE THERAPY TRIALS HALTED: Bluebird bio has halted a gene therapy trial for sickle cell disease after two patients developed cancer. Science. Link (Also covered by Fierce Biotech.)

ORDER YOUR FUNGUS: A company called Nature’s Fynd is taking pre-orders for their cream cheese and “meatless” breakfast patties made from a fungus found in Yellowstone National Park. Adventurous! Tech Crunch. Link

PINK PINEAPPLES: Del Monte, the large food distributor, is selling a pink pineapple. But is it just for clicks-’n-giggles? Grow by Ginkgo. Link

TOP 10 BIOTECH IPOs: The biggest initial public offering, in 2020, came from a little known Canadian company called AbCellera Biologics. Fierce Biotech.Link

SYNTHETIC WOOD: MIT researchers grew “wood-like plant tissues” in their laboratory, using living cells extracted from the leaves of a plant called Zinnia elegans. Wired. Link

AMERICAN MICROBES: Farmers have traditionally relied on chemistry — pesticides and fertilizer — to grow healthy crops in a changing climate. Soon, though, farmers may turn to microbes for the same. Bioeconomy.xyz. Link

ANCIENT MAMMOTHS: Scientists have shattered the record for “oldest DNA ever sequenced;” a 1.6 million year-old mammoth. Ars Technica. Link (Also covered by The New York Times, Nature and Science.)

ISRAELI RESEARCH CENTER: The Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya has launched a synthetic biology research center. Dr. Yuval Dorfan is the director. Press release. Link

BIOTECH FIGHTS HUNGER: Engineered crops, synthetic pesticides, nutrient-laden rice: synthetic biology has done a lot to fight hunger. Its next challenge will be to end hunger in a sustainable, equitable way. SynBioBeta. Link

CRISPR ETHICS: An intriguing opinion piece, in Scientific American, takes a fresh look at an old question: When should CRISPR be used on people? Scientific American. Link

GMO SALMON BAN: Some large food companies have banned GMO salmon before they even enter the market. The Counter. Link

THE CRISPR APP: New software, called DECODR, can help sift through large DNA sequence datasets after a CRISPR-editing experiment and identify off-target effects. Press Release. Link

HANNA GREY FELLOWS: The Howard Hughes Medical Institute announced the 2020 Hanna Grey Fellows. The 21 awardees each receive eight years of research support. A couple synthetic biologists made the list. HHMI Press Release. Link

More (Weird) Stories…

ALLERGIC TO RESEARCH: Some researchers are developing allergies to their test subjects. Spooky. Undark. Link

GLOWING MAMMAL: Springhares — a type of rodent native to Africa — are fluorescent under UV light. The New York Times. Link

💳Industry Updates

Press releases…what are they good for?

ERS Genomics (co-owned by Emmanuele Charpentier) and ZeClinics have signed a non-exclusive license for the use of the former company’s CRISPR patent portfolio. ZeClinics conducts pre-clinical testing with a zebrafish model, using the organism to assess “the safety, efficacy and biomedical relevance of new compounds.” Business Wire. Link

Evolve BioSystems, a Davis, Ca. based company developing probiotics to “restore the infant gut microbiome,” has received investment from Cargill and Manna Tree as part of their Series D funding round. It is a “first close” in what will be a $55 million round. PR Newswire. Link

Evox Therapeutics, an Oxford, UK based company using exosomes to deliver therapeutics, raised £69.2 in a series C funding round. PR Newswire. Link

Excision BioTherapeutics, a San Francisco, Ca. based developer of CRISPR anti-virals, raised $60 million in financing. The funds will support the company’s clinical development of a potential HIV cure. Globe Newswire. Link

Gamida Cell, a Boston, Ma. based company developing cell therapies for blood cancers, has raised $75 million through the sale of senior notes to Highbridge Capital Management. Biospace. Link

Jazz Pharmaceuticals acquired GW Pharmaceuticals for €6 billion this month. The latter was the first company to gain market approval for a “natural cannabis plant derivative” — a treatment for multiple sclerosis — in any country. A feature story on this, in Labiotech.eu. Link

Microvi, based in Union City, Ca., has been awarded $1.12 million from the National Institutes of Health to develop a machine learning platform “to predict optimal microorganisms for a given water treatment application…” PR Newswire. Link

Molecular Templates, an Austin, Tx. based clinical-stage company developing “immunotoxins” that can destroy cancer cells, signed a deal with Bristol Myers Squibb to develop new oncology therapies. The agreement could be worth up to $1.3 billion. Biospace. Link

New Age Meats, a Berkeley, Ca. based company developing both cultivated and plant-grown meats, raised another $2 million in a seed round of funding. SynBioBeta. Link

Novartis has teamed up with the Gates Foundation to support research that will — hopefully — culminate in a “one-and-done” cure for sickle cell disease. Fierce Biotech. Link

Until next time,

Niko

Thanks for reading Cell Crunch, part of Bioeconomy.XYZ. If you enjoy this newsletter, please share it with a friend or colleague. Reach me with tips and feedback @NikoMcCarty or via email.

Bioeconomy.XYZ

Innovation for the Bioeconomy

Niko McCarty

Written by

Science journalism at NYU. Previously Caltech, Imperial College. #SynBio newsletter: https://synbio.substack.com Web: https://nikomccarty.com

Bioeconomy.XYZ

The Medium publication for biotechnology and everyone involved in the revolution. The best brought to you by the brightest.

Niko McCarty

Written by

Science journalism at NYU. Previously Caltech, Imperial College. #SynBio newsletter: https://synbio.substack.com Web: https://nikomccarty.com

Bioeconomy.XYZ

The Medium publication for biotechnology and everyone involved in the revolution. The best brought to you by the brightest.

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