Help, I’ve Fallen and My Enterprise Can’t Get Up: Goldilocks, Right-Sizing and Synth-Bio
by Jim Lane (Biofuels Digest) The story of Pareto Biotechnologies, RuBisCo, the pesky failures of evolution, and help for those who have fallen and can’t get up, via a right-sized approach. Not too high a goal, not too low. Not too much reinvention of the genetic code. Not too little. Will Pareto’s approach be “just right”?
… Sapphire Energy has been hard at work since 2007 on a time machine — replacing the natural process into an industrial equivalent that takes a few days.
Building out that capability in algae has been the major factor in ensuring that, for Sapphire Energy, results would not come in a day and would cost a lot of dollars. There’s been a lot of brute force biology employed to advance the science of algae. Sapphire has, to some extent, built an entire industry inside one company.
In the near term, Pareto will introduce “designer molecules” as cosmetics, flavors and fragrances including molecules with properties unlike anything previously experienced. In the long term, Pareto’s molecules will be designed to enhance nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, and industrial commodities.
“… The problem is, it’s practically impossible to attract investors for a venture that will have an outcome in, maybe, 15 years after a series of expensive and risky clinical trials that only big companies really have the patience and capital to survive.”
“And look at the other end of the equation, such as biofuels. There, you might get the biology right, but what about the systems you have to build to industrialize and get the costs down. Look at Sapphire. The imagination that has to go into that is really amazing, and even then it goes slower than you would like.”
Mendez (Mike Mendez, one of the team who first engineered the genetics of placing human immune systems inside mice) pauses for emphasis. “You need winners.”
“So, we’re looking at flavors, fragrances and chemicals. You can get quickly to market. Not like energy or cancer, which for different reasons take huge amounts of investment and time. That’s the basic idea behind the company.” READ MORE