Lumen Biosciences is a biotech seeking to develop biologic drugs that can be produced faster and at a lower cost than those currently available on the market.
The means by which it hopes to achieve this is through its spirulina-based manufacturing platform, which the company stated is already affordable for developed-world customers. Spirulina itself is an algae, that is also commonly used as a nutritional supplement but provides the foundation for the biotech’s product candidates and manufacturing platform.
The biotech announced that it had partnered with Google to apply machine learning to the platform, in an effort to boost its productivity. Lumen outlined that the use of the technology had allowed the platform’s output to be doubled.
A spokesperson for the company explained to BioPharma-Reporter how this was achieved: “Spirulina growth has a number of controllable parameters, including pH, temperature, light schedule and intensity, etc.—and the organism’s productivity is very sensitive to these parameters. Machine learning was used to guide experiments through parameter space and identify unique combinations of settings that drive significantly increased productivities.”
Further than this, Lumen explained that using machine learning had allowed the company to test the platform far more efficiently than traditional ‘one-factor-at-a-time’ experimentation, with the potential number of interacting variables being too large to explore efficiently.
The biotech states that the productivity improvements being achieved on the platform could allow for the distribution of the products manufactured in the developing world. As part of this aim, the research that took place was funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
In terms of the future potential benefits of the spirulina-based biologic drugs that can be produced by the platform, Lumen’s spokesperson described how the potential treatments can be delivered directly via oral administration.
According to the spokesperson, biologic treatment delivered directly to the tissue is ‘relatively straightforward,’ but requires daily treatment and that is not possible due to the current cost of manufacturing. Alongside this, injected biologics are not entirely suited to treating certain diseased tissue, such as the upper respiratory tract or the GI tract, while a potential oral treatment would be able to offer a solution.
Lumen currently holds three investigational biologic drugs in its pipeline that are being examined in the clinic, which are targeting GI-related issues.
At the same time as the release of the research, Lumen revealed that it had received further funding from the US Department of Energy, of more than $2m (€1.7m), to conduct research on further improving the productivity of its platform.
The work will be a continuation of the machine learning study, by expanding the range of parameters that will be examined to improve productivity, such as the analysis of media chemistry and genetics.
“Future work will expand the scope of machine learning to optimise these. Beyond optimising growth, we will also seek to maximize intracellular accumulation of our high value protein products,” the spokesperson added.