Welcome back to the Synbio for Human Health newsletter. We are gearing up for SynBioBeta’s Global Synthetic Biology Conference in less than two months and we couldn’t be more excited to host critical discussions on the future of therapeutics. In this edition, you’ll find: 

  • Exclusive interview: Synbio + Pharma: Are we making progress?

  • Paul Stamets and Martine Rothblatt return to SynBioBeta! 

  • Prokarium doses first patient 

  • News from the Community 

This digest is brought to you by Asimov, a company that provides an end-to-end platform for genetic design by integrating state-of-the-art synthetic biology with computational tools.

Is Pharma Finally Catching onto SynBio?

Image via Canva.

For years, the synbio industry has tried to raise awareness of its capabilities to pharma leaders. Success has been uneven at best. While modalities like mRNA and cell and gene therapy have grown significantly, the synbio industry as a whole is still under-recognized. Or is it? 

I spoke with Anil Narasimha, co-founder and CEO of cell therapy tools company Mekonos, for this year’s check-in on synbio for human health. We started our conversation with JPM, which, as discussed in the last newsletter, is the annual vitals check for the human health industry broadly. When I went to JPM in 2023, I never heard the words “synthetic biology” used together. While Narasimha did hear a whisper of synbio at JPM 2024, he acknowledged, “I’m looking for it.” 

Narasimha sees the term “synbio” as still relatively niche. “The problem is that the natural tendency for synbio is not in the therapeutic space,” says Narasimha. “It’s more like alternative foods or organism building.” I can’t disagree with him even as we at SynBioBeta fervently put technologies like mRNA and CGT under the synbio umbrella. It’s all about engineering biology to do something beyond its original evolution for the health of people and the planet. While our exact preferred term of “synbio” still hasn’t been adopted in pharma vernacular, what about the technologies synbio represents? 

Here’s where Narasimha has seen real progress. When he raised the company’s Seed round in 2018, it required a lot of investor education. “I had to explain to folks what CGT was and what the potential was,” Narashima recalls. It sounds laughable now but Kymriah, the first cell therapy approved by the FDA, had only been launched the previous year. Narasimha describes spending hours with investors explaining the risks and benefits of CGT. “We’re talking cures, not just treatments,” Narasimha says. The very basics. Fast forward to today, and two rounds of funding later, Narasimha has no problem telling Mekonos’ story. Investors are up to speed and excited to join the ride. 

Read the full story here →

Paul Stamets and Martine Rothblatt were fans of SynBioBeta last year - They loved the event so much that they are returning this year for a fireside chat together on Wednesday, May 8th, at 4:15 pm. This discussion will be a melding of mycology, biotechnology, and the philosophy of interconnectedness! I hope you can join us.

Register now

Prokarium Doses First Patient for Non-Muscle Invasive Bladder Cancer

Image via Canva.

Earlier this month, synbio therapeutics company Prokarium announced the dosing of their first patient in their PARADIGM-1 Phase I/Ib clinical trial in non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) patients. The company’s platform utilizes a proprietary strain of bacteria, ZH9, as a platform for microbial immunotherapy. NMIBC affects over 500,000 people globally each year, which accounts for 70% of all diagnosed bladder cancer cases. This is Prokarium’s first entry into the clinic, and the company has a pre-planned expansion roadmap to test the drug in centers across the US. 

Additionally, Prokarium collaborates with leading synbio platform company Gingko Bioworks to discover targets for RNA therapeutics and immuno-oncology. We’ll be watching closely to see how that partnership evolves. 

Industry News

Have news or comments you’d like to share? Reach out to us at and subscribe here:

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

Email Marketing by ActiveCampaign