Seattle startup Lumen Bioscience is working with Google to make drugs using algae – GeekWire

Seattle startup Lumen Bioscience is working with Google to make drugs using algae – GeekWire

Seattle startup Lumen Bioscience is working with Google to make drugs using algae – GeekWire

Caitlin Gamble, head of informatics at Lumen Bioscience. (Lumen Photo)

Can machine learning help spur the production of algae-based biologics? That’s the question new research from Seattle biotech startup Lumen Bioscience and Google aims to answer.

The companies announced a collaboration on Wednesday and released a new paper that shows how a machine learning-based process helped double spirulina-based protein production capabilities.

Lumen also said that it received a $2 million grant from the Department of Energy for the research, which is led by Lumen’s head of informatics Caitlin Gamble and Google Accelerated Science engineer Drew Bryant, and is backed in part by the Gates Foundation.

“The combination of two pioneering innovations — the machine-learning of Google and our spirulina-based therapeutics production — brings us even closer to a fully optimized approach that could have a major impact on devastating diseases globally,” Lumen co-founder Jim Roberts said in a statement.

Roberts added that the research paper is “the first to describe the application of AI techniques to biologics manufacturing.”

Lumen manufactures proteins in algae. Spirulina acts like a little bioreactor to produce high amounts of candidate therapeutic proteins. The manufacturing system is a lot cheaper than the industrial-scale manufacturing facilities for the human cells typically used to make biologics.

Lumen raised a $16 million Series B round in September. The company also recently announced a joint project with the pharma company Novo Nordisk and an up to $14.5 million project with CARB-X, a nonprofit supporting the development of new antibacterials. In addition, Lumen recently snagged a nearly $4 million grant from the U.S. Army to develop a potential therapeutic for COVID-19.

The CARB-X project supports development of a spirulina pill against two pathogens that cause diarrheal diseases, Campylobacter jejuni and enterotoxigenic E. coli. The company currently has a phase 2 clinical trial, supported in part by the Gates Foundation, for diarrhea caused by these bacteria, which kill thousands of children worldwide each year.

Lumen last month said it would expand its manufacturing operations to a former bakery in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood.

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