Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Finding Genius Podcast

Jun 19, 2019

Louis E. Metzger, Chief Scientific Officer at Tierra Biosciences, delivers an interesting overview of his company’s innovative work.

Metzger’s company, Tierra Biosciences devised proprietary methods that make it possible to discover new molecules originating from nature. Their advanced technology builds upon the progress made in the areas of cell-free synthetic biology, computation, and automation, which allows it to seek molecules that were previously thought to be inaccessible by past methods. 

Metzger discusses his background and the premise of Tierra Biosciences. He states that many chemicals and enzymes used for biotechnology purposes, from insecticides in agriculture tech to drug-like molecules that are natural products used in biopharma, are often produced by expressing them in host organisms. But a limitation of this process is, for example, if one were to make a compound in an e-coli or yeast cell, and the enzymes for that compound are toxic to the host cell—it can die or simply not produce the results one was hoping for in the experimentation. Thus, it puts a limitation on the types of proteins that can be expressed or the types of chemicals that can be found. Metzger continues, to say that Tierra Biosciences’ method grinds up the cells while preserving their specific biochemistry (what the cells can do, etc.), which ultimately can lead to the ability to express proteins in cell-free systems that are derived from living cells but are not in fact, living. By this method, Metzger states that they can uncover proteins, etc. that would normally be toxic to the host.

The scientific officer elaborates further on other companies that are making strides in this area of science. Metzger mentions that they have quite a few proof-of-concept projects that are in the works at Tierra Biosciences. He discusses some interesting work that they are doing in conjunction with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that may offer hope for the treatment of malaria. 

The science expert discusses small molecule metabolites and cell-free reactions that have provided some notable and surprising reactions. He talks about the methods they use and their attention to testing and calibration in order to get consistent results. Essentially, Tierra Biosciences has found an innovative new approach to replenish the natural product pipeline by ultimately accessing DNA to find the incredible molecules of the next century and beyond.