— Application of ML Technology to Double Biomanufacturing Productivity
— $2M Grant New Funding from U.S. Depart. of Energy to Support Further Development
Seattle, WA, August 11, 2021 – Lumen Bioscience, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing products to treat and prevent highly prevalent diseases, today announced the results of a research collaboration with Google that applied machine learning (ML) to significantly advance the scalability of spirulina-based biologic drugs. The research, led by Caitlin Gamble, Lumen and Drew Bryant at Google Accelerated Science, was funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Lumen Bioscience simultaneously announced receipt of $2 million in additional grant funding from the Department of Energy to support further development of these research findings.
The new paper details the application of ML to increase spirulina productivity using Bayesian black box optimization to rapidly explore a 17-dimensional space containing numerous environmental variables including pH, temperature, and light spectrum and light intensity. Modifications over multiple experimental rounds resulted in outcomes that doubled spirulina-based protein production capabilities. Pending peer-review, the research titled “Machine Learning Optimization of Photosynthetic Microbe Cultivation and Recombinant Protein Production,” has been posted on the online preprint server bioRxiv.
Even in an ultra-simple biomanufacturing system like Lumen’s—where the growth media includes only water and a handful of simple mineral salts—the number of potentially interacting variables is too vast to efficiently explore with traditional one-factor-at-a-time experimentation. Lumen’s spirulina-based biomanufacturing platform is already easily affordable for developed-world customers, but further productivity gains like this will enable broader distribution of these products in the developing world, a major priority of the Gates Foundation. This ML application provides a way to short-cut the productivity improvement process that took decades for older biomanufacturing platforms such as yeast, E. coli, and CHO.
“The combination of two pioneering innovations—the machine-learning of Google and our spirulina-based therapeutics production—brings us even closer to a fully optimized approach that could have a major impact on devastating diseases globally,” said Jim Roberts, M.D., Ph.D., co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Lumen Bioscience. “We believe this paper is the first to describe the application of AI techniques to biologics manufacturing. We look forward to the future implementation of these practices, as supported with funding from the Department of Energy, to provide mucosally and topically delivered biologics for highly prevalent diseases that, until now, have been infeasible due to the cost and scaling challenges of traditional biomanufacturing platforms.”
“Lumen Bioscience’s spirulina-based biopharmaceutical manufacturing platform represented a unique and meaningful challenge for our ML team,” said Drew Bryant. “Applying ML techniques to the challenge, we were able to significantly improve outcomes at a speed and cost that would not be possible using traditional methods. Further enhancements to this platform hold promise to revolutionize ideas about feasible disease targets and global access to spirulina-based biologic drugs.”
In related news, Lumen Bioscience along with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, received funding support of more than $2 million from the U.S. Department of Energy for “ACCESS CARBON”, a project designed to further improve the productivity of spirulina-based biomanufacturing. This project will build on the pioneering work described in the paper above by expanding the number of variables evaluated to also include improvements from alternative, genetically diverse production strains and other key variables, and significant increase in complexity and scale.
Lumen Bioscience’s platform builds on its breakthrough discovery of the only known methods for engineering spirulina and subsequent development of a low-cost system to manufacture them at large-scale under biopharmaceutical-grade cGMP controls. The company’s clinical stage pipeline of investigational biologic drugs includes:
- LMN-201 for C. difficile infection, in collaboration with National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and Rockefeller University;
- LMN-101 for traveler’s diarrhea supported by BARDA’s CARB-X program and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and
- LMN-301 for Covid-19 GI infection, supported by the US Army Medical Research and Development Command (USAMRDC), operating through the Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium (MTEC).
Though current product development at Lumen remains tightly focused on biologic drug development, the technologies developed under the ACCESS CARBON project have the potential to impact other fields as well, including alternative foods, industrial biomanufacturing, and climate change—fields where production scales are far larger even than global health applications and pandemic response.