This podcast blew my tiny little mind...

Moderna: The Software of Life
Jason Kelly is the CEO of Gingko Bioworks and Matthew Harrison is a biotech analyst at Morgan Stanley. We cover the history of programming cells, what differentiates Moderna from other biotech companies, and lessons for entrepreneurs and investors can takeaway from Modernaโ€™s story.

Moderna: A name that most people associate with the huge Covid vaccine drive last year.

Advanced purchase agreements for over 800 million doses will bring in monster revenues of $18 billion this year...

But it's not the revenues or Moderna technology that has blown my mind.

It's this ๐Ÿ‘‡

We can just write drugs LIKE CODE... ๐Ÿคฏ

Remember when nanobots were the next big thing and everyone hated the idea of tiny little robots in their blood?

mRNA is different.

Described as the genetic middleman or the messenger molecule, it already exists in our bodies and might be even older than DNA (not sure exactly how?).

It delivers instructions from your DNA to the protein factory within your cells, and tells them what to build.

The clever bit? Scientists figured out a way to insert these 'instructions' from outside.

By wrapping them in tiny trojan horse fat particles, the immune system doesn't recognise them as a foreign body. The message is delivered, triggers the response and then it self-destructs...


Fascinating as all of that is, it barely scratches the surface of possibilities...

Future Trends in Synthetic Biologyโ€”A Report
Leading researchers working on synthetic biology and its applications gathered at the University of Edinburgh in May 2018 to discuss the latest challenges and opportunities in the field. In addition to the potential socio-economic benefits of synthetic biology, they also examined the ethics and secuโ€ฆ

Synthetic biology is increasingly becoming, at least part of, the solution to many of our present and future needs in medicine, food and energy production, remediation, manufacturing, and national security.

Going back to the podcast, I cut/edited this from the transcript...

The Impossible Burger: A plant-based burger, or else it's a veggie burger, you bite into it and it bleeds. So where's the blood coming from?
So what Impossible did was they found the gene for hemoglobin (makes blood red) and they moved it into brewer's yeast, like you would use to make beer.
And then you brew it up except instead of beer coming out, hemo comes out. And then you add that back into a veggie burger and suddenly, surprise, surprise because blood's an important part of meat, it smells right, it tastes right, and now it's the Impossible Whopper at Burger King.
People don't realize it, but the magic of that product, a lot of that magic is actually due to the ability to program cells. And then you look and there's companies doing this with egg proteins, milk proteins.
Vegan cheese is like styrofoam that turns into sand when you touch it, it's a total disaster. Everyone admits is a disaster.
And the reason is, you need casein, which is like a protein and milk. It's what makes cheese stretch. There's no replacement for it. There's nothing in plants that does it. It's just a reality. And so you have these companies now making casein and suddenly you have this vegan ice cream and vegan cheeses that stretch and are creamy.
We're able to make these animal proteins without the animals. And this is huge, both environmental, animal welfare, religious reasons don't want to eat this stuff.

I'd rather have a proper steak, but if it's a choice between this and insects...

OK back to the transcript.

The other area you see a lot is in materials.
A number of companies working on leather bags without the cow, as another example, where you're seeing it replaced.
We have people working on fire remediations, PFAS, and these chemicals that are showing up all over the place. They're very difficult to degrade.
Well, the other thing that biology does in addition to making all kinds of stuff is it's the world's best recycling system. Leaves fall off the trees, they get chewed up by fungi. Half of biology is actually things to break things down.
We have a company called Allonia that's been working on breaking down those types of difficult-to-degrade pollutants, as another example.
Think of it this way... a computer is a programmable machine. You put different code in it, and one day it's streaming a video, and the next day it's doing electronic medical records. It's amazing because of its programmability, but it's very limited because at the end of the day, all it moves around is information.
The magic of cells in biology is it's programmable. You put code in and it runs it, but it doesn't move bits around, it moves atoms. So if you think of what's going to get disrupted in the era of synthetic biology, it's all the physical goods industries.
It's food, it's medicine, it's building materials, down the list, electronics. Those are all biotech industries they just don't realize it.

Use the powerful combination of quantum-computers and AI to solve complex protein structures with increasing levels of accuracy and this could be genuinely revolutionary stuff with huge implications...

โ€˜The game has changed.โ€™ AI triumphs at solving protein structures
In milestone, software predictions finally match structures calculated from experimental data

Although if everyone lives longer what does that mean for pensions and healthcare providers?

Seriously, give the podcast a listen, it's well worth it.

And send in your questions on all things markets and economics!!

We'll answer the best ones tomorrow ๐Ÿค

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