To wrap up our coverage of this year’s World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneer Awards in the Biotech/Health category, we will mention Rincon Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a San Diego company specializing in recombinant protein production by using single-cell eukaryotic green algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, an organism that the company believes has an ideal set of physiologic properties for protein manufacture.
Rincon’s patented algal protein expression system – AlgRx™ – enables rapid development and commercialization of complex recombinant proteins and antibodies. The technology that forms the foundation of the AlgRx system was initially developed at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI).
The AlgRx system rapidly and efficiently produces recombinant proteins in the chloroplast of eukaryotic green alga, grown in fully contained photobioreactors. Green algae grow easily and rapidly – doubling cell number in approximately eight hours. As a result, significantly less time is required to generate stable production lines compared to conventional and alternative protein production platforms. Additionally, the ease and speed of scaling AlgRx production is unprecedented.
Single-cell eukaryotic algae have a number of specific attributes ideal for recombinant protein production, including:
1. The ability to grow phototrophically (utilizing only light for the production of energy) or heterotrophically (utilizing an external carbon source).
2. The ability to grow in containment.
3. The ability to grow throughout liquid media in cultures on scales ranging from a few milliliters to millions of liters, in a cost effective manner.
4. The ability to easily transform the nuclear, chloroplast, or mitochondrial genomes and the relatively short time between the generation of initial transformants and scale-up to production volumes.
5. Freedom from adventitious agents (viruses/prions).
6. The availability of a wide variety of promoters capable of being regulated by factors such as light, or specific nutrient levels in the medium.
These attributes, and the fact that many green algae are categorized GRAS (generally regarded as safe), make AlgRx a particularly attractive alternative to other systems for the expression of recombinant proteins.