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Start Your Own Biotech Company for $1000

Page history last edited by Convergence08 12 years, 11 months ago

Topics are Open Source biology  and DIY biology.


Igem iGEM is an international arena where student teams compete to design and assemble engineered machines using advanced genetic components and technologies.


iGEM has been a great way to foster biological innovation and experimentation.  DIY-bio has branched off of iGEM.  DIYbio is bringing biology in the hands of the individual.  Speaker is worrried about the risks people will take with misuse of chemicals, bacterias, etc.  Not a biohazard risk, but a risk to individuals.


DIY bio is "what experiments are easy?"


Speakers Story

Can we come up with a way to build an open source biotech?  Speaker has spent the last year building the foundations for a new biotechnology company for only $400.00 direct costs and travel.  There will also be $5k-$10k legal costs up front.


State of the art in cancer, breast cancer, the incidence rate for breast cancer has crept up a few percent since the war on cancer.  Survival has decreased only a few percent.  1 in 9 women will get breast cancer in their lifetime.  In Canada private individuals give about $100m annually to breast cancer.  The wonder drug in breast cancer is Perceptin (sp?).  Discovered in 1979, commercialized over 10 years ago, course of treatment somewhere around $70,0000.00 and only works on 30% of patients.  Also, it is essentially a toaster.  It only does one thing.  And this is the state of the art.


Some tests that cost $5000.00 when they should be $20.


Treat every cancer as a unique disease.


Need access to patients and tissues.  Doctors are very competitive for that and even sell it to pharmaceutical companies.


Let's start with one person.  Can I cure one patients cancer.  Wanted to find someone really great, articulate, willing to share medical information, willing to network, smart, an added bonus would be great if they were rich and could fund the whole thing.


Run full gene profiling.  Sequence a patients cancer genome, and compare it to their baseline.


Some groups work on uncolitic (sp?) viruses which only work on cancerous cells.


If you could make something like a virus or a bacteria then you have a way to match a program to a patient.  Some people are trying to make viruses but they are trying to make ones that work for whole groups of people.


Let's make a virus that is specific to one individual.  Roughly 10,000.00 base pairs.  A genome synthesizer for that many base pairs is only roughly $5,000.00.


Also, this doesn't have to go through phase I, II , or III clinical trials because it is not being marketed to the masses.  And the technology?  Open source - they're going to give it away.


Risk benefit for the patient is easy, but getting all the right approvals, etc. is a problem.  Speaker created a COOP, which gives some protections, manages the community, and manages the intellectual property as well.  People buy "memberships" and not "shares".


If you can get $50,000.00 people to sign up for the COOP at $20 per membership then you have just generated a million dollars to get off and running.  Who wouldn't want to if you're giving away the cure?


And that's how to start a biotech company for under $1,000.00.


Questions and Running Notes

Regulatory requirements differ drastically in varying geographical locations but we need to think globally.


Biotech is changing and the economics of it are changing dramatically globally.  We have to find ways to stimulate our development or we are goingto fall way behind in the global biotech economy.


If you gave this therapy to somebody, how long would the therapy take?

It is essentially catching a flu, so it would be a ten day cycle.  Therefore, the cure could be performed offshore in international waters so governmental roadblocks won't be so problematic.


Where's the regulation problems?

The difficult part is to get permitted to perform a phase I clinical trial.


Is there an idea for an interim animal for proof of concept?

Uncological viruses have been proven already.


Tell me more about the DIY biology...

Full genome sequencing in the next few years is goin to come down in price and be actually feasible ($1,000.00) for full genome sequencing.  DIY bio just organized in April.  It is a Google group publishing little kits and information, linked to thinks like Make magazine.  Equipment, procedures you can do by yourself.


Tell me more about ALSTDI...

ALSTDI was three brothers in the Boston area.  One brother got ALS and the other two were MIT engineers.  They built an entire biotechnology company using their brother as the primary candidate and now they are one of the primary ALS research centers in the world.


So what kind of roadblocks did you run into starting a biotech coop?

No IP stuff.  COOP lawyers who know how to build COOPs for housing structures, and such, and on the other side lawyers who know how to do traditional businesses in a traditional sense.  Ownership and membership has also been tough, because COOPs are typically confined to a single geographical area.  COOP is important because it is resistant to any type of corporate takeover.  Mountain Equipment COOP (RDI?) human powered outdoor activities was an example that was dissected by the speaker.  The type of thing speaker wanted to resist was, for example, an open source company that decides they no longer want to be open source.


Look at biotech on Yahoo and sort by market cap.  There are only five or so that have a market cap over $5billion.  That's after 30 years of development.  This development model is broken.  The legal guys that we hired had no biotech training - they were sharks recruited from the entertainment industry.


A patent costs $20k-$50k, plus you have to defend it.  This way, with a COOP, it will be really hard to go after him, because they have no profit.


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