Hi ,

Welcome back to this month’s edition of our human health newsletter. There’s been big news for synbio-developed therapeutics and fantastic fundraising and pipeline news from our community. In this edition, you’ll find:

  • A deep-dive into the synbio-neurotech connection with Amy Kruse

  • The CRISPR-based therapy is approved in the UK

  • News from the Community 

What’s the Connection Between SynBio and Neurotech, Really?

Woman Wearing Brainwave Scanning Headset Sits in a Chair In the Modern Brain Study Laboratory/ Neurological Research Center. Monitors Show EEG Reading and Brain Model. Image by gorodenkoff (Canva)

For several years, we’ve broadened our focus at SynBioBeta to include the neurotech field. This may have been surprising to you. After all, it’s not always obvious how genetic engineering relates to brain-computer interfaces. 

I sat down with Amy Kruse, General Partner and Chief Investment Officer at Satori Neuro, to better understand the synbio-neurotech connection and explore what these two fields could create together. Our conversation ended up becoming one of my favorite interviews I’ve ever done. We jumped feet-first into synbio, and I found myself swept off into neurotech for mental health, the opportunities and ethical pitfalls of AI, the intersection of computing, psilocybin, and next-generation biologics, and so much more. So come, dive in with me, and see where the intersection of synbio and neurotech can take us.

Neurotech is typically thought of as a computing field or even as med-tech. But our brains aren’t hardware; they’re wetware. At its core, neurotech is the application of computing and engineering principles on a living system, i.e., us. In many ways, this is the definition of synbio. It’s impossible to interact with the brain without considering biology. 

For Kruse, significant advances in biology and computing are creating new synergies. “We’re learning how to modulate the nervous system [in different ways],” says Kruse. “The gut-brain axis, [therapeutic] molecules, plant medicine, and electricity, it's a very big space. We haven't even begun to explore how all these pieces combine.”

Read the full story here →

This article of Kruse’s insights only previews her latest collaboration with SynBioBeta. Kruse has recently accepted the role of Neurotech Track Chair at SynBioBeta’s 2024 Global Synthetic Biology Conference. Be sure to join us in San Jose next May 6-9—there’s so much more to explore!

World-First CRISPR-based Therapeutic Approved for Sickle Cell Anemia

CRISPR-Cas9 proteins recognize and cut foreign pathogenic DNA. Image by Design Cells (Canva)

When CRISPR Cas9 technology was revealed to the world in 2012, it was hailed as one of the most significant breakthroughs of the 21st century. CRISPR “genetic scissors” were set to reshape medicine and the bioeconomy and market new therapies and products. Add the Nobel Prize for the technology’s discoverers, and you have a perfect recipe for the next industrial revolution. Eleven years have passed since Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier’s seminal paper, and while there was steady progress (and explosive patent battles), no new drugs have arrived for patients. That was until a few weeks ago.

The long-time partnership between Vertex Pharmaceuticals and CRISPR Therapeutics has finally borne fruit. In a groundbreaking announcement, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency of the UK  (MHRA) granted conditional marketing authorization for CASGEVY™ (exagamglogene autotemcel [exa-cel]), a CRISPR Cas9 gene-edited therapy designed to address sickle cell disease (SCD) and transfusion-dependent beta-thalassemia (TDT).

Exa-cel is currently under review by the European Medicines Agency, the Saudi Food and Drug Authority, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA has assigned Priority Review for SCD and Standard Review for TDT, with target action dates set for December 8, 2023, and March 30, 2024, respectively. While we won’t know anything until the FDA and other agencies make their rulings, we expect positive outcomes for CRISPR’s first big success. 

SynBioBeta News & Insights

Other News

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That’s all from us this month, but we’ll be back next month with new insights, opinions, and spotlights on the breakthroughs of synbio for human health.

Until next time,


Fiona Mischel

Director, Human Health Content and Innovation

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