Cell Free Synthesis with SutroBio — building proteins without the hassles of a cell wall
Congrats to Sutro Bio on their recent IPO! In full disclosure, I have been a fan of this concept from the early days, investing in their spinout from Stanford, and then the subsequent four rounds over the past 14 years. It took a while to optimize this technology, but now I see new high-volume opportunities in protein synthesis to feed the clean lab meat industry.
I saw this slide of the growing landscape in the Cell-Free Synthesis section of SynBioBeta earlier this month. SynBio Prof. Paul Freemont from Imperial College introduced Sutro as “the great pioneer of cell-free systems.” And Thomas Meany, CEO of Cell-Free Technology, presented: “DNA to protein TX/TL apparatus is 100x faster outside the cell, because there is no cell wall.”
Surto’s focus to date has been on manufacturing protein therapeutics for cancer and autoimmune disorders. In 2017, they built the world’s first cell-free manufacturing facility in San Carlos, producing human antibodies. To date, biologic therapies (monoclonal antibodies, proteins and cellular therapies) become quite expensive because they require multi-billion manufacturing facilities. Cell-free approaches hope to make a 100-2000x improvement in manufacturing cost and scalability.
They also can expand the protein universe with naturally inaccessible proteins and non-native amino acids (tRNA can code for many more than the 20 found in nature).
The FDA last week approved their Orphan Drug Designation for the treatment of Multiple Myeloma.