Inventing and developing natural products and new technologies in the area of biomedical, pharmaceutical, environmental, and agriculture and food, using new scientific and biotechnology approaches, supported by bioengineering and computational technologies.
In mid-2016, Michael Easley and Charles Roe began exploring ways to assist Dr. Raul Cuero with the commercial applications of some of the intellectual property that Dr. Cuero had help invent over the years.(http://www.theotherlookofcolombia.com/rcuero.html, https://repeatingislands.com/2013/04/26/afro-colombian-researcher-raul-cuero-named-mosis-2013-national-hispanic-scientist-of-the-year).
Recognizing the potential they worked with Dr.Cuero and IPOC to structure a relationship of entities to advance the development of existing and new products, foster research and development and their commercialization. In late 2016, Easley & Roe founded and subsequently funded BioCapital Holding, LLC, ("BioCap"), a US based bio-tech company focused on using synthetic biology to advance medical innovations and produce environmentally friendly, premium-grade compounds using commercially viable platforms.
International Park of Creativity in Colombia ("IPOC")
The patented synthetic biology technology being commercialized by BioCapital is primarily generated at the International Park of Creativity ("IPOC") in Manizales, Colombia under the direction of Dr. Cuero. IPOC was one of the original members of The Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynnBERC, now EBRC), which was a multi-institutional research effort that aimed to lay the foundation for the new scientific field of Synthetic Biology. In addition to IPOC, members included universities such as Berkeley, MIT, and Harvard, and companies such Dow, Dupont, Agilent Technologies, among several others.
IPOC also adds a unique, socially-positive, educational aspect to BioCapital's endeavor. Dr. Cuero's childhood in Colombia was far from privileged. He is anxious to pass along his knowledge and success to tomorrow's inventors. IPOC is a laboratory campus for the high-school aged children of Colombia to receive hands on use of modern scientific equipment. A nonprofit organization, outside of Columbia's regular education system, IPOC's students participate in a multi-disciplined study of creative applied science. They are being taught to solve problems through scientific invention. The young students involved improve their self-esteem and several already have gone on to receive scholarships at U.S. based universities. IPOC is primarily funded through royalties from its work. BioCapital's long-term goal is to bring IPOC and its positive influence on students to the U.S. http://www.ipoc.co
BioCapital has entered into service agreements with IPOC and Dr. Cuero to do continued research and development and to produce selected compounds on a small-batch basis in Colombia for use as prototypes.
When people think of GMO's (genetically modified organisms), many think of "glow in the dark corn" or some other "mutant vegetables" with a negative connotation. Farmers have had access to GMOs since 1996. GMOs genetically modify plants to either kill pests (Bt corn and soy), or they are modified to withstand heavy applications of herbicides. Consumers are concerned because they are eating plants designed to kill bugs or plants that encourage excess herbicides, which not only taint the food, but can lead to run off that pollutes streams, ground water, and the soil. There has also been widespread research connecting herbicides and pesticides to the decline of honey bee and monarch butterfly colonies. The issues above are valid concerns for the use of GMOs to serve these particular purposes. That said, almost any agricultural product used today to some extent comes from some type of GMO.
There is now a relatively new science commonly referred to as synthetic biology, or synbio as it's also known. In short, synbio is the integration of science, engineering, and computational modeling that makes biology more predictable, and thus more economically feasible.
According to a report from NPR, "while genetically modified seeds typically contain genes from another organism that bestow a plant with a new defense mechanism, making synbio food involves taking genes from a plant and giving them to yeast to make the same compound the plant makes, but much more efficiently, via fermentation". As you will read in the coming paragraphs, food products are not the only things that can be produced using synbio. So, comparing synbio to GMOs is kind of like the familiar saying of comparing apples to oranges.
We all know of yeast's positive role in helping produce delicious "stables" such as bread and beer. Did you know that yeast can be an incredible microbial factory? What if you could "re-program" yeast, feed the yeast sugar, and then have the yeast produce synthetic biological alternatives to many of the products mankind uses today? The end product is a workhorse of organisms that can efficiently create everyday products.
Amyris, Inc. – The Front Runner
Amyris, Inc. was one of the front runners to enter this new field. The company has attracted some high-profile businessmen, such as Bill Gates, whose foundation and the Institute for One World Health funded $43MM in 2012 for anti-malaria work. Gates recently put $5MM into Amyris on 4/8/2016 to continue its anti-malaria work. This site https://www.equities.com/news/amyris-nc-amrs-a-future-behemoth-making-molecules has a 3 minute video that includes an interesting map of a yeast cell: https://vimeo.com/124415353. It is a good overview of what synthetic biology and bio-manufacturing are.
Peeked your interest? https://vimeo.com/116177924 is an excellent 21 minute video produced by CNN's "NextList", discussing Amyris' production of anti-malaria and biofuels.
Other than being in a similar industry, BioCap currently has nothing to do with Amyris. Simply borrowing their videos and news stories to help convey some pretty complicated information.