Lumen Bioscience teams with Google to Apply ML to Biologics Manufacturing

August 17, 20210

Lumen Bioscience, a clinical-stage biopharma company, announced results from a research collaboration with Google that applied machine learning (ML) to significantly advance the scalability of spirulina-based biologic drugs. The research was led by Caitlin Gamble, Lumen and Drew Bryant at Google Accelerated Science and was funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Lumen Bioscience received additional grant funding of USD 2 million from the Department of Energy that will be used for further development of these research findings. These funds to support the “ACCESS CARBON,” program that is designed to improve the productivity of spirulina-based biomanufacturing by expanding the number of variables evaluated to also include improvements from alternative, genetically diverse production strains and expand the scale.

A paper published by the companies, “Machine Learning Optimization of Photosynthetic Microbe Cultivation and Recombinant Protein Production,” details the use of machine learning to increase the productivity of spirulina through the use of Bayesian black box optimization. The research details the application of ML to increase spirulina productivity 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. This paper is the first to describe the application of AI techniques to biologics manufacturing, which can help to reduce the cost and scaling challenges of traditional biomanufacturing platforms. 

Lumen’s biomanufacturing system is “ultra-simple”, requiring only water and simple mineral salts. However, the company stated that the use of machine learning was necessary for the productivity improvement process that involves a number of potentially interacting variables and enhance the biomanufacturing process that took decades for older biomanufacturing platforms such as yeast, E. coli, and CHO. 

Last month, Lumen had also entered into a research collaboration with Novo Nordisk to evaluate the use of Lumen’s drug development and manufacturing platform in Novo Nordisk’s research and development activities within obesity and other metabolic disorders. The landscape alternate production platforms for drugs and biologics has been evolving over the past decade and it will be interesting to watch out for their applications in other fields and expanded use for multiple drugs and biologics development. 

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