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Constructive Bio launches with 15M seed investment to re-engineer biology, creating new classes of enzymes, pharmaceuticals and biomaterials

publication date: Aug 26, 2022
 | 
author/source: Constructive Bio

constructive-bio-launches-15m-seed-investment

 

Constructive Bio launches with $15 million seed investment to scale and commercialise ground-breaking synthetic biology research of Professor Jason Chin, who will be Chief Scientific Officer.

Constructive Bio announces its launch as a new UK-based biotechnology company following the completion of a $15 million seed round and an exclusive license from the Medical Research Council (“MRC”) to IP developed by Professor Jason Chin’s Laboratory (the “Chin Lab”) at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (“MRC-LMB”).

The Chin Lab has pioneered the development and application of methods for reprogramming the genetic code of living organisms, rewriting the near-universal genetic code of natural life to create organisms that use new genetic codes. The new organisms deliver remarkable properties: they are resistant to a wide variety of viruses, they can be programmed to make new unnatural, or synthetic, polymers, and even perform entirely new functions. 

The Company, which is headquartered in Cambridge, UK, is based upon two core proprietary platform technologies:

  • Large scale DNA assembly - to construct large chunks of DNA at unprecedented scale e.g., whole bacterial genomes can be built from scratch; and
  • Genome reprogramming - to systematically recode whole genomes to engineer unnatural products for commercial applications. 

 

Together, the MRC technologies will be used by Constructive Bio to synthesise polymers with non-natural amino acids for commercial applications across a range of industries including novel therapeutics and antibiotics, enhanced agriculture, manufacturing and materials. In addition, the new organisms’ phage resistance can be used to increase bio-manufacturing yields. Further, novel polymers can be designed with the ability to breakdown and recycle the monomers to support a circular, sustainable economy, offering approaches to transform industries such as the c.$750bn global polymers market, and help overcome global challenges such as climate change to benefit the planet and mankind. 

Professor Jason Chin, FMedSci, FRS, Programme Leader at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Chief Scientific Officer of Constructive Bio said: 

“Over the last 20 years, we have created a cellular factory that we can reliably and predictably program to create new polymers. The range of applications for this technology is vast - using our approach we have already been able to program cells to make new molecules including from an important class of drugs and to program cells to make completely synthetic polymers containing the chemical linkages found in biodegradable plastics. 

Now is the right time to commercialise these technologies. I am pleased that we have attracted significant support and seed funding to establish Constructive Bio and capture this opportunity. By taking inspiration from nature and reimagining what life can become we have the opportunity to build the sustainable industries of the future.” 

The Company is led by recently appointed Chief Executive Officer and Board member Dr Ola Wlodek, former Chief Operating Officer at Resolution Therapeutics. Ola brings more than 15 years of biopharma and R&D experience having previously worked on natural products biosynthesis and unnatural peptide cyclisation.

 

Dr Ola Wlodek, CEO of Constructive Bio said: 

“I am excited to join Constructive Bio at inception and work with Jason to commercialise this ground-breaking research. The technologies use biology to access novel chemical space and generate polymers with a wide range of commercial applications across multiple industries, with an initial focus on bioproduction where our technology has significant commercial value in the near term.”

The Company was set-up with support from Ahren’s Commercial Engine and with Ahren Science Partner input. The substantial seed round was led by Ahren alongside Amadeus Capital Partners, General Inception and OMX Ventures. The funding will be used to build out the technology platforms for commercial application, including assembling synthetic genomes and synthesis of non-natural polymers using bacterial strains.

Matthew Newcombe-Ellis, Operating Partner, Ahren Commercial Engine, said:

“We are delighted to support Jason and the Constructive team in commercialising these breakthrough technologies. With highly valuable near-term applications and transformational potential across a wide range of industries in the medium term, we believe it is important to establish Constructive with the resources and tools to fully capture this value. We look forward to working with the company, its commercial partners, the MRC, and our co-investors, all of whom have provided key contributions, to deliver on this substantial opportunity over the coming years.”

Pierre Socha, Partner, Amadeus Capital Partners, added:

“If we think of cellular biosystems as biological factories, we need to be able to write the cell’s operating system in a rapid, accurate and affordable way. The foundational challenge then becomes how to write the DNA of whole living organisms, from scratch, to optimise the manufacturing of these bioproducts. And that’s what Constructive Bio is going after. By creating tools that allow us to design and program cells, we will address issues from protein-based therapeutic design, industrial and environmental sustainability, food and agriculture, to consumer care and electronics.

 

About Constructive Bio 

Constructive Bio is an MRC spin-out that has exclusively licensed IP developed by the laboratory of Prof. Jason Chin at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK. The MRC platforms, described in a series of landmark publications (Fredens et al., Nature 2019 & Robertson et al., Science 2021) allow the fundamental reprogramming of the genetic code, and creation of molecules that nature could not make itself. We will use these technologies to biosynthesize new classes of enzymes, pharmaceuticals and biomaterials. Learn more at www.constructive.bio 

 

About Professor Jason Chin

Jason is a Programme Leader at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, where he is also Head of the Centre for Chemical & Synthetic Biology (CCSB). He is Professor of Chemistry & Chemical Biology at the University of Cambridge and holds a joint appointment at the University of Cambridge Department of Chemistry.  He is also a fellow in Natural Sciences at Trinity College, Cambridge.

Jason’s work has been recognized by several awards, including: the Francis Crick Medal and Lecture (Royal Society, 2009), the Corday Morgan Prize (Royal Society of Chemistry, 2010), the EMBO Gold Medal (European Molecular Biology Organization, 2010), the Louis Jeantet Young Investigator Career Award (Jeantet Foundation, 2011), the Sackler International Prize in Physical Sciences (Tel Aviv University, 2019), and the Meyerhof Medal and Lecture (Max Planck Institute Heidelberg, 2021). He is a member of EMBO (2010) and the Academy of Medical Sciences (2016). Jason was recently elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society.

 

About Ahren

Ahren is a deep tech and deep science investment firm set up by Alice Newcombe-Ellis alongside co-Founding Science Partners. Together, these Founders created companies and/or technologies that are today valued in excess of $100BN combined. The firm was established from first principles with a mission to be disruptive as an investment institution, with a new model – genuine partnership between the creators of deep technology and deep science, and commercially active, long-term capital, to harness tremendous global talent and build and exponentially accelerate the next generation of great enterprises. Ahren's Portfolio companies include AI21 Labs, Graphcore, Zapata Computing, ZOE, Phaidra, Heirloom Carbon, and Bicycle Therapeutics among others. Ahren has >$800M AUM and has team members in Cambridge (UK), London, and Boston.

 

About Amadeus Capital Partners

A trailblazer for three decades, we invest in people who create transformational technologies and sustainable businesses. We back early stage and growth companies in Europe and Latin America, from our locations in Cambridge, London and Oxford, San Francisco and São Paulo.

 

About OMX Ventures 

OMX Ventures is an early-stage life-science and medical technologies focused venture capital firm with offices in Boston, New York, Washington, DC and San Francisco. OMX invests at the formation stage and the seed stage, taking a holistic and scalable approach to providing both experienced and first-time founders with the tools and support required to translate their breakthrough science into commercial success.

 

About General Inception

General Inception is a venture studio corporation that partners with extraordinary scientist founders at the formation stage of their entrepreneurial venture, providing capital, product development resources and seasoned executives who help define and execute on commercial market entry plans. Through its subsidiary, General Inception Partners, the firm partners with an exclusive membership of leading science-focused venture capital firms to provide first institutional financing and ongoing value-add to early-stage companies.

 

About the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology

The Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) is one of the world's leading research institutes. Discoveries and inventions developed at the LMB, for example DNA sequencing and methods to determine the structure of proteins, have revolutionised all areas of biology.  Its scientists work to advance understanding of biological processes at the molecular level. This information will help us to understand the workings of complex systems, such as the immune system and the brain, and solve key problems in human health.

The Medical Research Council is at the forefront of scientific discovery to improve human health. Founded in 1913 to tackle tuberculosis, the MRC now invests taxpayers’ money in some of the best medical research in the world across every area of health. Thirty-three MRC-funded researchers have won Nobel prizes in a wide range of disciplines, and MRC scientists have been behind such diverse discoveries as vitamins, the structure of DNA and the link between smoking and cancer, as well as achievements such as pioneering the use of randomised controlled trials, the invention of MRI scanning, and the development of a group of antibodies used in the making of some of the most successful drugs ever developed. Today, MRC-funded scientists tackle some of the greatest health problems facing humanity in the 21st century, from the rising tide of chronic diseases associated with ageing to the threats posed by rapidly mutating micro-organisms. The Medical Research Council is part of UK Research and Innovation.

 



 

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