Meat From Air, Synthego Raises $200M (Cell Crunch #56)
Plus: Other news where biology meets engineering.
Elsewhere, CRISPR was used in a tick for the first time, and The Guardian peers into the optimistic science fueling anti-aging startups.
Thanks for reading.
Looking for Legacy
Altos Labs is one of the most heavily-backed startups ever (about $3 billion in funding), with the aim of building cellular regeneration technologies that can fend off age-related diseases, like Alzheimer’s and some cancers.
Despite the moonshot-like mission, respected academics seem optimistic that lots of money could herald scientific breakthroughs. Google’s Calico, founded in 2013, has similar longevity-esque aims but hasn’t produced any products yet.
A new feature from science journalist Ian Sample lays out the companies, and backers, behind the latest batch of longevity startups. I think it’s worth your time.
Read more at The Guardian.
A Robot’s Heart
As one heart cell contracts, its neighbor follows. Each heart beat is built from a rippling wave of these cellular contractions, individual cells pulsing like a chorus. Electricity is the conductor.
Now, Harvard researchers have built a robotic fish powered by human cardiac muscle cells. The cells (derived from human stem cells) were placed on either side of a gelatin slice. Triggering contractions on the right side (via electrical pulses) caused the fish to swing their tail to the right. Contractions on the left did the opposite.
The result: A weird confluence between robot and human, powered by sugar dumped in an aquarium and little packets of electrons.
Read more at Ars Technica.
Air Protein is a California-based startup that wants to make meat from air. Microbes are grown inside of fermentation tanks and fed with “a mix of carbon dioxide, oxygen, minerals, water, and nitrogen,” according a WIRED story. The output is a “protein-rich flour” that can be transformed, in a culinary pièce de résistance, into a hunk of chicken.
In early 2021, the company raised $30M.
Read more at WIRED.
Worm farmers (yes, worm farmers) are breeding bigger, juicier worms to help meet global food demands. The next step: Convincing more people to eat them. WIRED
Synthego raised $200 million dollars (partly a Series E) to build up their “cell and gene therapy discovery and development ecosystem.” Synthego
Researchers at the University of Nevada have edited the genome of a black-legged tick with CRISPR-Cas9, a first. Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News
SpliceBio closes a €50 million Series A, the largest ever for a Spanish biotech company. The company is using inteins, a type of protein that can fuse peptides together, to develop new gene therapies. Labiotech.eu