A huge problem in genetics is understanding what a particular mutation in a gene will do if it has not been observed before. BRCA1 is a well known mutation that causes susceptibility to breast cancer. We know that at the 185th nucleotide a deleted Adenine or Guanine can predispose one to breast cancer. This is because after sequencing thousands of breast cancer genes we observe this deletion event over and over and therefore have correlated the two events.
If if you sequenced your gene for breast cancer and they found a sequence that wasn’t normal but also not seen as cancer causing, what would you do? That sequence is called a Variant of Unknown Significance, or as is said in the industry, a VUS. While doing their PhDs and postdoctoral work at Stanford, Carlos and Alex had developed an approach to solve the mystery of VUSs. They used machine learning to look at the particular variant and predict its effect on the protein and the level of harmfulness of the variant. Later on, they developed a lab based assay to corroborate the interpretations, and further train the network (a critical piece of the puzzle we call “wet-in-the-loop”).
The largest genetic testing service to individuals and healthcare providers, Invitae, needed a solution to the VUS interpretation problem. With his skillset in hand, Carlos approached and closed, within four months, a pilot with Invitae to interpret VUSs in their samples. The pilot went so well that Invitae offered to acquire Jungla to incorporate their technology into Invitae’s offering.
Amaryllis Nucleics took a laborious and complicated chemical process to enable RNA sequencing and reduced it to a kit that non-experts can use and can complete the task in hours, when it used to take days. With a more accurate process, as well, Amaryllis Nucleics is democratizing access to RNA sequencing and in turn, acclerating the speed at which genomics discoveries are made by researchers.
“Natural ingredients is the fastest growing segment in food, personal care, and health-&-wellness industry, but large companies can’t find reliable scalable supplies. For example, in 2016 there was an acute shortage of natural citrus ingredients because of citrus greening disease. Just the year before, prices of natural vanilla increased 10X due to low supply and increased demand.
Ardra’s synthetic biology platform unlocks multiple hard to make high value compounds through the fermentation of natural sugars, and their expertise in making designer microorganisms. Their platform utilizes computational methods in conjunction with a high throughput screening of proprietary enzyme libaries. This platform has already ben validated for multiple ingredients. Ardra has one joint development agreement to scale and distribute their first fragrance, leaf aldehyde. Deeper in their pipeline is animal-free Heme, Hazelnut flavor, a ketone mono-ester, cannabinoids, and several natural colors.
Ten years ago, a founder at Joywell was researching ways to help his grandmother, a cancer patient, enjoy foods after chemotherapy wrecked her taste buds. He came across a molecule called miraculin, a protein that temporarily tricks your taste buds into thinking sour is actually sweet.
Over the last several years, people have been throwing “flavor tripping parties” that revolve around popping a tablet of miraculin and subsequently trying sour foods, only to then perceive them as sweet. Joywell took this idea turn make the future of artificial sweeteners, made not from carbs, but from proteins. Today, Joywell mass produces this protein using a bit of genetic engineering and microbial fermentation, they’ll be partnering with CPG companies to push out a wide variety of products to replace not only natural but artificial sugars. Watch out, stevia!
Three years before COVID made everyone care about rapid molecular diagnostics, mFluiDx was already working on it. They were fighting epidemics before it was cool. Their initial prototype, funded by The Gates Foundation and DARPA, was working on rapid diagnostics for Zika virus. When patients would normally have to wait for days to get a result. mFluiDx’s prototype offered them an accurate diagnosis faster than a Spanish siesta, and 100X cheaper than a PCR setup.
mFluiDx presents a fast and portal DNA-based technology for identifyuing outbreaks of dangerous diseases in the field. Using microfluidics, they’ve engineered a field-ready, affordable, sensitive, and rapid approach that democratizes high-need diagnostics for everyone in the world.
mFluiDx selected as one of the top 20 startups to pitch at TechCrunch Startup Battlefield, from a pool of 900 startups globally.
MycoWorks is a biotechnology company founded by artists with the mission to create a platform for the highest quality materials using Fine Mycelium . Drawing on over two decades of pioneering research and innovation by our creative founding team, MycoWorks’ proprietary Fine Mycelium platform has enabled a new class of premium, non-animal materials that are the next evolution in mycelium. The company mission is to using the tools of biotechnology, manufacturing excellence and creative, master craftsmanship to grow the future of materials.
MycoWorks is at the forefront of the movement to bring circularity and sustainability to the fashion industry. They recently annouced a landmark partnership with Hermès for a new material Sylvania, a hybrid of nature and biotechnology. Fine Mycelium™, the genesis of Sylvania, is produced in the MycoWorks facility. It is then tanned and finished in France by the Hermès tanners to further refine its strength and durability, and shaped into a luxury travel bag at the workshops by the Hermès craftspeople. The company’s flagship product Reishi™ — a non-animal, non-plastic leather that performs like cowhide — designed as a proprietary woven cellular microstructure inspired from animal leather. Reishi™ is available for sale for stakeholders across the textiles industry from running shoes to the runway.
OneSkin aims to promote skin rejuvenation by decoding the aging process. By replicating skin aging using 3D models and correlating biological markers with chronological age, they have created an efficient engine to screen new antiaging molecules. OneSkin is the first-in-class platform to quantitatively measure the rejuvenation effect on any molecule in human tissues
Their first topical supplement, OS-01, has been shown to act on a molecular level to reduce skin biological age, improve skin barrier, and improve cell function. OS-01 launched in Q1 2021.
At all stages of our lives, our nutritional needs vary. Babies have different nutritional requirements, as do pregnant mothers and rapidly growing teens. Want to live forever? There’s probably an optimum diet for that as well.
That’s why Perennial is using their plant-based dairy platform to go after the elderly (>50) nutrition market with a high-value, indulgent drink, thoughtfully crafted to support the gut and the brains of aging adults. Perennial uses advanced technologies to take the best features of dairy and plant ingredients to break apart healthy fats and adhere them to the surface of plant proteins, making the resulting fat/protein matrix perform even better than actual dairy. Perennial is paving the way to purposeful nutrition that tastes good, and is easy to access.
We take our kidneys for granted. These organs remove waste, salts, and excess water, and we get to expel them from our body through urination. When you have kidney failure–like over 660,000 adults in the US–you become a dialysis patient, and have to drive into a clinic every other day to get hooked up to a gigantic machine that filters your blood for you. This can cost anywhere between $80,000 to $140,000 per patient per year. If only there was a way to have a portable, at-home kidney that you can take with you anywhere.
Qidni is making their own artificial kidneys, connected to the cloud, so they can enable independent dialysis providers to serve millions of patients without owning any clinics. Their QGel adsorbent can perform dialysis with 100X less water, and with significant cost savings. Qidni has already demonstrated the portability and viability of their artificial kidneys on a fully nephrectomized sheep (no kidneys). It survived, and the “kidneys” filtered out even more urea than is normally done in a typical dialysis session in a clinic.
SyntheX is expanding drug design into the ‘undruggable’ space for the treatment of cancer and rare diseases. They implement an innovative platform for the accelerated discovery of new classes of therapeutics that target the Achilles’ heel of cancer cells in a highly specific and selective manner. Traditional drugs work by disrupting the enzymatic function of proteins. SyntheX expands the drug discovery space from active site inhibitors to protein-protein interaction modulators using our innovative screening technology.
Before Aluna, patients had no way of objectively tracking their Asthma to understand triggers, measure lung function, and predict Asthma attachs.
Aluna’s platform empowers patients and clinicians to create personal action plans for their Asthma with FDA-cleared combination of a digital spirometer, a healthtracking platform, and a physician remote monitoring portal. They are currently fulfilling orders from clinicians at UCSF and family practice across the US. By enabling telemedicine Aluna has shown clinicians can intervene quickly when patients scores decrease and prevent severe symptoms.
With 41M patients suffering from Asthma or COPD, and use for COVID lung health recovery monitoring, Aluna is poised to be the solution for respiratory monitoring and care.