- Constructive Bio launches with $15 million seed investment to scale and commercialise ground-breaking synthetic biology research of Professor Jason Chin, who will be Chief Scientific Officer.
- Company set up to build out the reference techbio platform, a cellular factory for the assembly of synthetic genomes or the synthesis of non-natural polymers using bacterial strains.
- Company holds an exclusive licence from the Medical Research Council to IP developed by the Chin Lab at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology based in Cambridge, UK.
- Dr Ola Wlodek, former Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Reflection Therapeutics and expert in natural product biosynthesis and unnatural peptide cyclisation, appointed as Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
- The Company was set up with support from Ahren’s Commercial Engine and with Ahren Science Partner input.
- Company backed by leading deeptech investors – Round was led by Ahren with participation from Amadeus Capital Partners, OMX Ventures and General Inception.
Cambridge, UK. 15 August 2022 – Constructive Bio (the “Company”) today announces its launch as a new UK-based biotechnology company following the completion of a $15 million seed round and an exclusive license from the Medical Research Council (“MRC”) to IP developed by Professor Jason Chin’s Laboratory (the “Chin Lab”) at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (“MRC-LMB”).
The Chin Lab has pioneered the development and application of methods for reprogramming the genetic code of living organisms, rewriting the near-universal genetic code of natural life to create organisms that use new genetic codes. The new organisms deliver remarkable properties: they are resistant to a wide variety of viruses, they can be programmed to make new unnatural, or synthetic, polymers, and even perform entirely new functions.
The Company, which is headquartered in Cambridge, UK, is based upon two core proprietary platform technologies:
- Large scale DNA assembly – to construct large chunks of DNA at unprecedented scale e.g., whole bacterial genomes can be built from scratch; and
- Genome reprogramming – to systematically recode whole genomes to engineer unnatural products for commercial applications.
Together, the MRC technologies will be used by Constructive Bio to synthesise polymers with non-natural amino acids for commercial applications across a range of industries including novel therapeutics and antibiotics, enhanced agriculture, manufacturing and materials. In addition, the new organisms’ phage resistance can be used to increase bio-manufacturing yields. Further, novel polymers can be designed with the ability to breakdown and recycle the monomers to support a circular, sustainable economy, offering approaches to transform industries such as the c.$750bn global polymers market, and help overcome global challenges such as climate change to benefit the planet and mankind.
Professor Jason Chin, FMedSci, FRS, Programme Leader at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Chief Scientific Officer of Constructive Bio said:
“Over the last 20 years, we have created a cellular factory that we can reliably and predictably program to create new polymers. The range of applications for this technology is vast – using our approach we have already been able to program cells to make new molecules including from an important class of drugs and to program cells to make completely synthetic polymers containing the chemical linkages found in biodegradable plastics.
Now is the right time to commercialise these technologies. I am pleased that we have attracted significant support and seed funding to establish Constructive Bio and capture this opportunity. By taking inspiration from nature and reimagining what life can become we have the opportunity to build the sustainable industries of the future.”
The Company is led by recently appointed Chief Executive Officer and Board member Dr Ola Wlodek, former Chief Operating Officer at Resolution Therapeutics. Ola brings more than 15 years of biopharma and R&D experience having previously worked on natural products biosynthesis and unnatural peptide cyclisation.
Dr Ola Wlodek, CEO of Constructive Bio said:
“I am excited to join Constructive Bio at inception and work with Jason to commercialise this ground-breaking research. The technologies use biology to access novel chemical space and generate polymers with a wide range of commercial applications across multiple industries, with an initial focus on bioproduction where our technology has significant commercial value in the near term.”
The Company was set-up with support from Ahren’s Commercial Engine and with Ahren Science Partner input. The substantial seed round was led by Ahren alongside Amadeus Capital Partners, General Inception and OMX Ventures. The funding will be used to build out the technology platforms for commercial application, including assembling synthetic genomes and synthesis of non-natural polymers using bacterial strains.
Matthew Newcombe-Ellis, Operating Partner, Ahren Commercial Engine, said:
“We are delighted to support Jason and the Constructive team in commercialising these breakthrough technologies. With highly valuable near-term applications and transformational potential across a wide range of industries in the medium term, we believe it is important to establish Constructive with the resources and tools to fully capture this value. We look forward to working with the company, its commercial partners, the MRC, and our co-investors, all of whom have provided key contributions, to deliver on this substantial opportunity over the coming years.”
Pierre Socha, Partner, Amadeus Capital Partners, added:
“If we think of cellular biosystems as biological factories, we need to be able to write the cell’s operating system in a rapid, accurate and affordable way. The foundational challenge then becomes how to write the DNA of whole living organisms, from scratch, to optimise the manufacturing of these bioproducts. And that’s what Constructive Bio is going after. By creating tools that allow us to design and program cells, we will address issues from protein-based therapeutic design, industrial and environmental sustainability, food and agriculture, to consumer care and electronics.
Notes to Editors
*To reprogram the genetic code, new translational machinery (including technologies involving orthogonal ribosomes, aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases and tRNAs) was created. Additionally, a completely synthesized bacterial genome in which the number of sense codons in its genetic code was reduced. The unused codons were reassigned to encode the synthesis of non-canonical polymers and macrocycles and proteins containing non-canonical amino acids.
About Constructive Bio
Constructive Bio is an MRC spin-out that has exclusively licensed IP developed by the laboratory of Prof. Jason Chin at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK. The MRC platforms, described in a series of landmark publications (Fredens et al., Nature 2019 & Robertson et al., Science 2021) allow the fundamental reprogramming of the genetic code, and creation of molecules that nature could not make itself. We will use these technologies to biosynthesize new classes of enzymes, pharmaceuticals and biomaterials. Learn more at www.constructive.bio
About Professor Jason Chin
Jason is a Programme Leader at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, where he is also Head of the Centre for Chemical & Synthetic Biology (CCSB). He is Professor of Chemistry & Chemical Biology at the University of Cambridge, and holds a joint appointment at the University of Cambridge Department of Chemistry. He is also a fellow in Natural Sciences at Trinity College, Cambridge.
Jason’s work has been recognized by several awards, including: the Francis Crick Medal and Lecture (Royal Society, 2009), the Corday Morgan Prize (Royal Society of Chemistry, 2010), the EMBO Gold Medal (European Molecular Biology Organization, 2010), the Louis Jeantet Young Investigator Career Award (Jeantet Foundation, 2011), the Sackler International Prize in Physical Sciences (Tel Aviv University, 2019), and the Meyerhof Medal and Lecture (Max Planck Institute Heidelberg, 2021). He is a member of EMBO (2010) and the Academy of Medical Sciences (2016). Jason was recently elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society.
Ahren is a deep tech and deep science investment firm set up by Alice Newcombe-Ellis alongside co-Founding Science Partners. Together, these Founders created companies and/or technologies that are today valued in excess of $100BN combined. The firm was established from first principles with a mission to be disruptive as an investment institution, with a new model – genuine partnership between the creators of deep technology and deep science, and commercially active, long-term capital, to harness tremendous global talent and build and exponentially accelerate the next generation of great enterprises. Ahren’s Portfolio companies include AI21 Labs, Graphcore, Zapata Computing, ZOE, Phaidra, Heirloom Carbon, and Bicycle Therapeutics among others. Ahren has >$800M AUM and has team members in Cambridge (UK), London, and Boston. Learn more at www.ahreninnovationcapital.com.