At Scispot, we are constantly inspired by the innovation and ambition of the biotech startups and scaleups who are bravely exploring diverse habitats, from caves to oceans and deserts, in search of new species and sources of biologically-active compounds. This is called bioprospecting and these companies are pushing boundaries to uncover new microbes, proteins, metabolites, and genetic material from the most extreme environments.
Bioprospecting has given us many of the drugs currently on the market. A large percentage of FDA-approved therapeutics, including most antibiotic classes and many anti-cancer drugs, come from natural sources. However, we have only just begun to scratch the surface. More than 99.9% of the earth’s microbes, the ‘microbial dark matter’, remain unexplored.
Here are some of the top bioprospecting startups and scaleups shaping the future of the biotech, pharmaceutical, agricultural, cosmetics and personal care industries and we cannot wait to see the impact they will have on the world.
The soil contains a rich ecosystem of untapped microbes. Visionary Israeli startup Terrapeutics is harnessing the power of soil microbes to create the next generation of drugs. They have developed a drug discovery platform to identify natural molecules that interact with ‘undruggable’ drug targets. Terrapeutics is currently focusing on discovering novel RAS inhibitors to treat cancer, as well as developing new treatments for infectious diseases.
“Our revolutionary technology enables us to look at the 99.9% fraction of the naturally produced molecules that the pharmaceutical industry is blind to, and rapidly, selectively and accurately pick microorganisms that produce molecules that respond to specific drug targets.” Dr. Ariel Werman, CSO & Co-Founder of Terrapeutics
Environmentally-conscious Brazilian startup Apoena Biotech has authorization to sustainably bioprospect and collect biological material from Fernando de Noronha, an archipelago in Brazil. Brazil is home to more biodiversity than any other country, with more than 20% of the world’s species. Apoena Biotech is committed to responsibly harvesting microorganisms from small samples of soil, seaweed, or other biomes and developing raw materials into biotech products for many industries, including healthcare, nutrition, agriculture, cosmetics, and personal care.
“Our mission is to improve people's lives through responsible production of innovative, sustainable, safe, and effective biotechnology-based ingredients.” Bruno Carillo, Operations Director, Apoena Biotech.
Nebraska-based Synbiotic Health is taking the approach of bioprospecting inside the human body. Our microbiome plays a central role in gut health and disease. Resident microbes can change the expression of genes involved in nutrient absorption, energy metabolism, intestinal barrier function and immunity. There are many probiotics on the market and there is robust scientific evidence that probiotics can help to treat gut conditions such as diarrhea and lactose intolerance. Synbiotic Health has developed a discovery platform to create Synergistic Synbiotics™ - a combination of prebiotics and probiotics designed to change the gut microbiome to improve health. They only use microbes that are native to the human gut and can outcompete other strains in the gut with positive health benefits.
“Our mission is to harness the power of the human microbiome, using the best science to develop precise, scientifically validated microbiome ingredients that support optimal health in every age group.” Tim Brummels, President and CEO, Synbiotic Health
Innovative Korean biotech scaleup MicrobiotiX is developing bacteriophage-based therapies to treat multidrug resistant pathogens, or ‘superbugs’, autoimmune diseases, and other incurable diseases. Bacteriophages are viruses that live inside bacteria. They are found everywhere - in soil, in the sea, and in extreme environments, such as freezing or very hot temperatures. Bacteriophages have the superpower of being able to kill specific bacteria without affecting human or animal cells. Therefore, they are an exciting alternative to antibiotic treatment. MicrobiotiX Co. has collected a large bacteriophage library over the past 15 years, including phages that target several superbugs like Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli, and Klebsiella pneumoniae. The biotech scaleup has also developed a proprietary platform to discover which phages target which pathogens and has built a GMP facility to scale up production.
“Microorganisms are gaining resistance to antimicrobial agents. Therefore, there is an urgent need to supplement or replace the existing antibacterial treatment framework. Through bacteriophages, we want to reset the relationship between humans and antimicrobial resistant bacteria.” Dongeun Yong, CEO, MicrobiotiX
Inspiring French biotech startup Gene&GreenTK is developing and engineering enzymes from microorganisms that live in extreme environments, like water from Mount Vesuvius. G&G are creating anti-biofilm products for novel medical devices and other surfaces, and enzymes for bioremediation of organophosphorus chemicals. Their strategy is to use enzymes to block bacterial quorum sensing, a method that some bacterial strains use to communicate and increase pathogenicity. This strategy is called quorum quenching and it blocks bacterial signaling without killing bacteria. Therefore, it doesn’t select for antimicrobial resistance like antibiotics.
“Thanks to these enzymes, it is possible to control bacterial virulence while preserving biodiversity. This is a step forward that we are very proud of.” David Daudé, CEO and CSO, Gene&GreenTK.
These 5 biotech companies are all leveraging the limitless potential of bioprospecting to improve our lives. At Scispot, we love empowering ambitious biotech startups with our modern tech stack and helping them operate as massively scalable TechBio companies. We have built a one-stop, completely configurable, digital operating system so every biotech company can manage R&D, operations, partnerships, sales, investor relations, and more, all in a single platform.
Request a demo to see how Scispot can help you create the next generation of life changing products.
- Terrapeutics- https://www.terrapeuticspharma.com/
- Apoena Biotech- https://www.apoenabiotech.com/
- Synbiotic Health- https://synbiotichealth.com/
- MicrobiotiX- https://microbiotix.net/
- Gene&GreenTK- https://www.gene-greentk.com/
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