Hi ,

Welcome back to this month’s edition of our human health newsletter. It’s been a busy start to 2024, so let’s dive in! In this edition, you’ll find: 

  • Exclusive Interview: Elegen CEO Matthew Hill on new collaboration with GSK

  • JPM 2024: Are we turning a corner? 

  • News from the Community 

Elegen Partners with GSK

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It’s no secret that fast and accurate DNA manufacturing is a bottleneck for the next-gen therapeutics industry—which is why we were excited to see pharma giant GSK partner with cell-free DNA company Elegen. The collaboration between the companies will focus on therapeutics and vaccines, particularly RNA vaccines. I spoke with Elegen founder and CEO Matthew Hill to better understand how pharma works with synbio companies and how the nucleic acid therapeutics space has evolved post-COVID.

To set the scene, here’s the collaboration in a nutshell: GSK will be able to leverage and license Elegen’s ENFINIA DNA in a multi-year deal for a near-term value of $35 million in fees and purchasing commitments as well as development support and potential milestone payments. The pharma giant also has the opportunity to make an equity investment in Elegen down the road. 

“So, what does all this mean in the coming months and years?” I ask Hill.

“The rapid expansion of DNA and RNA-based therapies is truly exciting,” says Hill. “I think the whole world is watching to see which new modalities succeed in development and the clinic.” Hill points to Moderna’s phase 2b readout from its individualized neoantigen/ pembrolizumab monotherapy combo trial for melanoma. “If this succeeds, it will be a huge step forward in treating cancer, and I think it will open the floodgates to additional personalized modalities.”

Read the full interview here → 

You can meet Elegen and many more innovators at SynBioBeta 2024!

SynBioBeta 2024: Biopharma Solutions: Tools & Technologies

As synthetic biology charts the course toward addressing some of the most challenging medical conditions, pinpointing suitable targets becomes imperative. A growing contingent of companies is zeroing in on pioneering targets for drug administration and efficacy. In tandem, integrating digital advancements is fast-tracking protein configuration and shedding light on the intricate tapestry of the human microbiome. The biopharma sphere is adapting and revolutionizing, employing cutting-edge tools for synthesizing vital compounds, capturing singular gene dynamics, and expediting the drug discovery process at an unprecedented pace. What trajectory is synthetic biology carving in the biopharma landscape? How can we orchestrate the creation of drugs that are more affordable, safer, and markedly superior in efficacy? As we delve deeper, what revelations await us about the intricate dance of molecules that constitutes human life?

Session Topics:

  • Next frontiers in nucleic acid medicines and protein folding: unleashing a new class of therapeutics

  • Biomachines Beyond Nature: How Can We Make Molecules Precisely Tailored to Our Needs?

  • Using AI to shift the treatment paradigm and clinical trial design - Can generative AI help give a new life to molecules that previously failed clinical trials?

  • Undruggable targets and the advent of generative AI - Finding new small molecule targets to difficult to reach pockets

Register now

JPM: Are We Turning a Corner in 2024?

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JP Morgan Health Conference is arguably the most significant event on the pharma industry calendar. It’s a who’s who whirlwind of deal-making and discovery, innovation, investment, short sleep, late cocktails, and very, very expensive San Francisco hotels. It’s also a pulse-check on how the human health industry feels about the coming year. 2023 was a rough one, and last year’s JPM saw a lot of belt-tightening and little optimism. So we asked the community: was 2024 any better? 

“The atmosphere around the conference itself and associated gatherings was upbeat, much more so than last year,” says Mike Booth, SVP of External Affairs and Investor Relations at He emphasized that the company’s business and investment discussions were far more fruitful than in 2023.  “We were also able to share our plans and progress with analysts, bankers, members of the media, [and] numerous current and potential business partners and customers. An excellent, if exhausting, week!” Booth says happily. 

Anil Narasimha, co-founder and CEO of Mekonos, also found the event more uplifting than in 2023, though it was not exactly celebratory. “It was terrible,” Narasimha chuckles when I ask about the mood at JPM. “It’s a terrible environment. But there’s optimism.” He points out there was a “it’s terrible, but there’s optimism” mood last year, too. But as successful M&As and IPOs have kicked off 2024 and funds need to deploy their capital, Narasimha thinks 2024 might be the real turning point. 

Tune in next week for a more extended conversation with Anil Narasimha about the state of synbio in pharma and what we can expect to see in the coming years. 

SynBioBeta Health Insights

Image via Canva.

Industry 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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