Class 08
IndieBio SF

IBSF08 2019

Matt Gibson, CEO
If you have ever talked to a vegetarian or a 'flexitarian', you'll commonly hear that the number one thing stopping them from going vegan is cheese.
Cow cheese without the cow
The average American consumes 36 pounds of cheese per year

When we think of pizza, we think of gooey, melty, stretchy cheese. Unfortunately vegan cheese has not delivered. The texture is nowhere near as stretchy and doesn’t satisfy any foodie trying to replace their dairy cheese.

New Culture is making a meltable, stretchable cheese with the mouthfeel of cow-based mozzarella, by employing traditional cheesemaking techniques. In a manner similar to another key cheese-making ingredient, rennet, New Culture set about to eliminate cows from its cheese by wrangling microbial fermentation to produce caseins. These difficult-to-make proteins are the critical molecules that bring about that stretchy texture that makes cheese so cheesy.

Marcel Frankel, PhD, CEO
Our software has made it possible — for the first time — to discover how a tumor will mutate, years before it actually happens in a patient. We can “discover” it while we are designing the drug itself in the computer. And so we can design drugs that work not just against the tumor before it mutates, but the drug will still work after it mutates. And not just one mutation — all likely mutations.
In silico drug design based on movement
Currently only 2-4% of drug targets are both druggable and disease modifying

Using computers to design better drugs has been quite effective when there’s already a lot of knowledge about the compounds and the protein targets they’re hitting. But those approaches to in silico drug design haven’t worked well for new areas, where there isn’t a lot of knowledge. It’s the difference between interpolation and extrapolation.

To go after biological pathways where there hasn’t been much success in the past — and design entirely novel classes of drugs — a different approach was needed.

The Ten63 platform BEYOND, leverages a proprietary AI and state-of-the-art physical models to explore an unprecedentedly large chemical space, allowing them to discover new therapeutics to targets previously believed undruggable. While their competitors search through a few million compound variations for the best fit, Ten63 can easily and efficiently search through billions of possibilities. This allows them to also design drugs against all likely mutations of, for example, a tumor.

Franco Goytia, CEO
Other CRISPR systems exist in nature—we mounted expeditions throughout South America and Antarctica searching hostile environments (such as deserts, high altitude regions, and environments with high salinity and high UV radiation) for organisms with novel CRISPR systems. Our company’s portfolio of enzymes includes unique functionalities which typically correlate with the enzymes’ original environments.
Accelerating CRISPR diagnostics
Many CRISPR systems operate at temperatures around 37°C. However, those temperatures are not compatible with isothermal amplification, which functions best at 62–64°C.

What do you do when all the Cas proteins get locked up in IP because of the CRISPR war? You go to the ends of the earth to find an undiscovered Cas protein. And that’s what the Caspr team did, traveling to high-altitude mountains and volcanoes to find extremophiles in Argentina where there might be a Cas protein whose upbringing might endow them with temperature resistance.

Caspr has been acquired by a Fortune 100 company.
Now Caspr is using their special Cas to develop cheap and rapid CRISPR-based test kits ƒor infectious diseases. One month after they graduated from IndieBio, COVID-19 hit and Caspr’s team knew exactly what they had to do. They flew out their scientists out of Argentina to come live in San Francisco, where 15 of them lived in a single house in Alamo Square, all trying to develop tests for the coronavirus.

After demonstrating how rapidly they were able to develop their tests, Caspr was approached by Amazon to help with their internal efforts to test their employees.

Michelle Zhu, CEO
People are paying attention to how the food they put IN their bodies are made, and it's only a matter of time when they start paying attention to the clothes they put ON their body as well.
Culturing nature's rainbow
Jeans are a $100B market globally. Twenty thousand tons of indigo are produced annually for dyeing of jeans. Statistically, every American owns, on average, seven pairs of blue jeans.

Jeans are everywhere. But the blue dye in most jeans are made with chemically synthesized indigo, which not only pollutes our planet (both chemical and and carbon), but the entire process is also toxic, corrosive and highly combustible. We don’t have to deal with these issues when we buy them at the store, but someone (the person who makes your jeans) does.

Huue discovered a way to fix these problems by using a nature-inspired process to create indigo (and other colors) from completely renewable sources like sugar and microbes. They’ve programmed bacteria to help make the most sustainable jeans on the planet, and proven that their dyes perform just as well as the toxic ones. Aheir color platform isn’t stopping at denim–they’ve already moved on to food dyes, and is partnering with Gingko Bioworks to expand even further.

Dr. Abhijeet Borole, CEO
The use of a waste feedstock enables our process to more than double the electrical efficiency of renewable hydrogen production compared to water electrolysis, providing a more cost-effective alternative
Take trash. Make gas. (hydrogen, that is)
Gas from landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States, accounting for approximately 15.1 percent of these emissions in 2019

We have two major problems plaguing humanity: there are food shortages all around the world, AND we need to increase the proportion of renewable energy and capacity for energy storage. What if we can solve both these challenges, feeding two birds with one scone? 40% of our food is wasted and accounts for a sizeable proportion of methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas, while it’s in landfill.

Electro-Active Technologies diverts this food waste into renewable hydrogen using their modular reactor. The liquid fraction of food is converted into hydrogen, while the residual solids can be composted or turned into an animal feed, all with the power of microbial electrolysis. In 2021, they they have a $1M partnership with Southern Company Gas to make distributed, sustainable waste-to-value solutions a reality.

Paul Schmitzberger, CEO
The world's oceans are polluted by microplastics and environmental toxins such as lead or fertilizer, which accumulate in the food chain and have potentially negative effects on sensitive people and those with health issues.
Turn sunlight into fish
The percentage of fish stocks that are within biologically sustainable levels have decreased from 90 percent in 1974 to 65.8 percent in 2017

Aquaculture has its problems, with the majority of the fish being fed fishmeal and a constant stream of antibiotics, with all the waste effluent going back into the ocean, affecting the already ailing ocean ecosystem. What if we can recreate the ocean in a tank, decoupling it from our natural ecosystem, so that seafood can be generated just from the sun?

Blue Planet Ecosystems miniaturizes an ecosystem in a closed-loop, recirculating aquaculture system facilitated by computer vision, to turn sunlight into seafood. The sun feeds the algae, which feeds the zooplankton, which feeds the fish (no need for fish meal or pesticides!). Quality is controlled by computer vision, which monitors fish health. Best of all, this can be done on land, in the desert, without needing an entire ocean at your disposal.

Kevin Honaker, CEO
We essentially can't trust any microbiome study that isn't longitudinal. Change is the only constant when it comes to microbiome data. And gut-drug interactions at this resolution are huge for any drug discovery platform.
Longitudinal microbiome sampling.
More than a trillion microbes in our gut, and over 700-1000 species. There are more bacteria than human cells in our body.

BiomeSense is developing an integrated biosensor & cloud-based bioinformatics platform to massively scale the collection and analysis of gut microbiome data, producing up to 30x the data for <10% of the cost compared to conventional methods. The enabling technology is a proprietary microfluidic biosensor that’s installed in the patient home, passively and continuously sampling the gut microbiome without any input from the patient.

The company’s first market is clinical research, exponentially increasing the data available during clinical trials. After this market, the company plans to rapidly move to clinical use as a companion / traditional diagnostic, and long-term, the ultimate vision is to become a widespread consumer product to enable everyone to track and understand their microbiome for better health.