What lies ahead: the future of engineering biology

  1. 04th May, 2023

Advances in engineering biology are creating an ever-expanding toolkit and evolving infrastructure that can conceptualise, deliver and scale solutions to address a wide range of biological, chemical and even social problems. As society emerges from a global pandemic, two of the key challenges that confront the modern scientific world are a need for more efficient drug development pathways and mitigating the manmade drivers of climate change. At Ingenza, we pride ourselves on our ability to address challenges to human health and the global environment, by engineering biological systems to make everything from therapeutics to industrial enzymes to the building blocks of consumer products. This blog discusses what lies ahead for Ingenza on its mission to become the partner of choice for engineering biology, and how our distinctive technology capabilities can innovate and enhance customer processes to deliver shared success.

New directions for engineering biology

The life sciences field is largely defined by landmark discoveries and breakthroughs, from the discovery of the structure of DNA in 1953 and RNA interference in the late 1990s, to the sequencing of the human genome and the realisation of the potential of stem cells in the 21st century. But now the focus for many labs is shifting from empirical discovery to an engineering biology approach, taking synthetic biology concepts and combining them with process engineering and programming knowledge to answer questions, address hypotheses and create real-world solutions.

Playing to our strengths

Ingenza has extensive expertise in engineering biology, with a range of ground-breaking technologies that have been successfully delivering sustainable bioprocesses for many years now. We pride ourselves on our adaptability, and have worked on numerous successful projects spanning biotherapeutics, agrichemicals, biofuels and bulk chemicals. While most companies develop their technologies in just one or two chassis organisms, our biosynthetic processes work across a diverse range of bacterial, yeast and mammalian platforms, including 10 microbial and two mammalian hosts. We have a proven track record of delivering robust, adaptable, and cost-effective bioprocesses – initially at a scale between 100 millilitres and 20 litres in our labs – with successful technology transfer to our industrial partners reaching manufacturing scales of over two million litres. 

Looking forward, we aim to further strengthen our leading position in the sector by focusing on two key segments of engineering biology – human health and sustainability. These markets are anticipated to see significant expansion – with Compound Annual Growth Rates (CAGRs) of 11.34 % and 9.4 %, respectively by 2028 – and we are keen to demonstrate what we offer to customers looking to push the boundaries of what can be achieved to address these important global challenges.

Accelerating the customer journey: a two-pronged approach

Our customers in the health sector look to Ingenza to help them accelerate drug development, creating and optimising pharmaceutical manufacturing processes to advance cutting-edge therapeutics from the lab to the clinic. The drug development process is typically resource intensive and time consuming – taking a decade or more – and is even more complex for biopharmaceuticals than small molecule compounds. We work in close partnership with customers and partners to advance a selected candidate rapidly through the drug development process, from the early stages of process feasibility, through CMC development and process optimisation, to supporting pre-clinical assessment and toxicology testing, priming new medications for ‘first in human’ trials. 

For the sustainability sector, governments and organisations around the world have recognised the importance of switching from fossil feedstocks and waste intensive chemical manufacturing to bio-based industrial processes to achieve net zero objectives, mitigating the impacts of climate change. Engineering biology will play a central role in this effort, providing the essential building blocks to enable many industries to make the change to more sustainable, environmentally friendly practices. As a leader in this sector, we apply our extensive experience to develop our customers’ ideas, establishing feasibility and viability, and advancing projects from proof-of-concept to pilot-scale operation.

Bioengineering our future

The engineering biology revolution has the potential to redefine our future. Imagine a world in which cell therapies can cure rare diseases, low-cost, orally administered vaccines prevail, completely new antibiotic classes combat antimicrobial resistance, energy and waste-intensive manufacturing processes for plastics and other products are being phased out in favour of bio-based materials, and plants have been bioengineered to sequester carbon more effectively. This is the future that engineering biology companies like Ingenza are paving the way for. With an ever-increasing global population, new diseases emerging and industrial processes continuing to increase carbon footprints, engineering biology is crucial to harness technological advancements that will drive global health and sustainability.