By Richard Hallinan. Delighted to bring you our first post from our Corkman in SanFran! Richard attended the latest IndieBio event in SF and has delivered a great account of what went on.

On Thursday the 4th of February IndieBio SF demo day was held at the Folsom Street Foundry. A full house attended the event that included 280 investors. 14 biotech start-ups presented their products that are funded by IndieBio. These companies get the opportunity to get their projects up and running in a 4 month time frame aiming to move the business and the science of their products in parallel eliminating the years of research typically involved in bringing products from research to the market shelves.

The seminar was introduced by the IndieBio team Ryan Bethencourt, Arvin Gupta and Ron Shigeta. Gelzen were first to present:

Gelzen – Animal Free Gelatin

Alex Lorestani CEO (also past student of UL in 2005) and his team are engineering microbes to build animal free gelatin an essential protein used in many foods. This is a much quicker time efficient process than making gelatin from animal scraps at slaughter. The challenge facing gelatin is upscaling from the lab to large fermenters.

Koniku – Biological Neuron Chips

Oshiorenoya E.Agabi CEO of Koniku aims to use biological neuron chips to build the future of computing. They are already working with the Boeing aviation company on using their chips as sensors in Warcraft to sense harmful chemicals at a very low precision in advance. There technology is capable of sensing at precision values up to parts per trillion. Koniku also plan to use biological neurons in cognition meaning having a device that can think by itself.

Genesis – Pick and Place DNA Sequencing Platform

Every biotech product needs to start with a specific DNA sequence to produce a particular protein. This can be very time consuming and is proving to be a bottleneck in Industry. By breaking DNA strands into a shorter sequence a better understanding of the sequence can be gained and eventually the production of specific sequences will be more predictable. Co-Founder Jeff Clayton and his team have developed pick and place technology that will make DNA synthesis more predictable.

Vali – Multilamellar Liposome Technology in Nanoparticles

Andrew Gray CEO spoke on how VALI’s technology is capable of reprogramming cells to treat cancer and used in X-Ray Imaging for gene expression. Currently a lot of Cancer drugs fail because cancer drugs are toxic and the delivery of these drugs to tumours are hit and miss and when they do reach the targeted location not all of the cancer cells are killed. Vali have developed crosslinked multilamellar liposome technology that can deliver multiple drugs to cancer cells in a nanoparticle and make cancer cells commit suicide by flipping a genetic switch. The technology also does an overall spot check on the environment leaving healthy cells untouched.

Amino Labs – Biolab Learning Kit

Julie Legault CEO believes that bioengineering is the technology that will shape the 21st century. Their personal Biolab learning kit easy enough for kids to use can be used in the homes of people making bioengineering accessible to people from a non-scientific background enticing a curiosity to learn more about biology

New Wave Foods – Seafood Production Using Texture Technology

Issues exist today related to capturing fish at sea. Child Slave labour is a big problem, toxic pollutants are found in fish and capturing fish at sea is not a sustainable process. CEO Dominique Barnes wants to address these issues by disrupting seafood not oceans. New wave have developed texture technology to create seafood using 5x less resources and their first product is shrimp the most consumed seafood in the US. The seafood are made from plant ingredients and algae the greatest antioxidant known on the planet.

V-Sense – Vital Sign Monitoring Technology

CEO Jeff Nosanov aims to use NASA radar technology for vital signs monitoring. V-Sense have developed a device that can measure heart rate, breathing rate and heart rate variability by measuring the rise and fall of the chest during the breathing cycle. Current monitoring equipment is bulky, a vector for disease, uncomfortable for patients and expensive. This Cube shaped device is mobile, cheaper and does not have to be attached to the patient and will eventually be the size of an iPhone.

Nerd – Skincare Using Microbiome Technology

Nerd are developing skincare products using Microbiome technology. Customized formulations contain bacteria that improves the skin. A lot of people are affected by skincare problems such as Acne making us less confident in ourselves. Acne products contain harsh chemicals like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide that is known to cause dry and sensitive skin. This is the first skincare problem Evelyn Chen CEO of Nerd wants to address. Nerd have had a 100% acne treatment success rate from 50 subjects.

MYi – Protein Detection Technology

Jun Axup Co-Founder believes MYi can provide the next generation of protein detection technology using protein panels and a MYi map. Their high throughput technology will be able to carry out multiple tests at a time by looking at numerous proteins in the body allowing for a diagnosis to be made quicker than technology used today. It can be used for early detection of disease, overall health condition of a patient or as a muscle / bone injury diagnostic tool.

Circularis – Promoters for Protein Production

Protein production today is a process that needs to be improved. It can be hard to get the right amount of a certain protein. Paul Feldstein CEO spoke of using genetic promoters for protein production and is hoping to build a promoter database that can produce required proteins at desired quantities for customers from a wide range of industries. The technology has successfully improved production of the T7 promoter used in E. coli.

Indee – Microfluidic Chip Technology

CEO Ryan Pawell revealed that over 8.2m people are affected by cancer each year. Indee aim to treat intractable cancers by simple scalable cell therapy using a microfluidic chip. Intractable cancers are currently treated using vectors with viruses and electroporation but are not an effective treatment method. Manufacturing these therapeutics at large scale is the problem. Cell membranes of cancer cells can be disrupted by the chips fluid dynamics and treated with therapeutics.

Girihlet – T-sequencing Technology

The Immune system is pretty diverse. It consists of RNA, DNA, glucose and proteins. To understand the immune system one needs technology to capture information from all of these components but technology like this is hard to find and costly. Co-founder Anitha Jayaprakash outlined how Girihlets cheaper and more efficient t-sequencing technology uses t and b cells to deep sequence cells of the immune system and gather important data for early detection of diseases like cancer but also for teasing out other health issues that are currently difficult to diagnose in healthcare.

Truust – Neuroimaging Cloud Software Service

If we cannot see something chances are we cannot understand how it works. CEO Dr. Henrik D. Kjeldsen wants to provide a neuroimaging cloud software service that allows one to magnify brain visibility ten times greater than current capabilities using existing EEG hardware giving a better idea on how the brain works helping to detect early signs of Alzheimer’s or for treating epilepsy and concussions. Experts are saying the software is not only great but it is beautiful.

Memphis Meats – Cultivation of Meat by Cell Culture

90% of people in the world today eat meat. The manufacturing of meat today has negative issues surrounding it. Antibiotics are used for treating animals that can enter the human food chain. Sustainability issues exist. For example did you know it takes 23 calories of grain to make one calorie of beef. Uma Valeti CEO claims that Memphis meats can produce meat in a healthier, safer, sustainable and cleaner way by cell culture techniques. Desirable cells are taken from animals and cultured into meat products. People are itching to use these products and the demand is huge. A recent Sam Harris twitter survey participated by 15000 people on twitter said 83% of people would eat cultured meat.

Conclusion:

The event was concluded by Sean O Sullivan founder of SOS Ventures the company responsible for funding IndieBio. Sean strongly supports the idea of accelerating biological applications over a period of four months. This was an extremely interesting event. These biotech companies are comprised of talented individuals coming from science, engineering and business backgrounds who are equally as important as the company representatives that spoke on the day.

It is difficult to see all these companies reaching the market place as these companies are raising or have just raised seed funding so there is still a lot to do before a sustainable company is established and this is the challenge they now face because after four months the companies are now going out on their own. Some of the companies make similar technology so they could potentially start competing against each other also but they could also forge partnerships. Even if a minority of these companies reach the market they will improve the health of people worldwide.


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