rBIO Hits Key Lab Milestone with Synthetic Production of Insulin

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Using rDNA technology to synthesize production of proteins and peptide hormones, the biotech startup has achieved synthetic production of insulin, potentially lowering insulin cost by 30%.

rBIO, a US-based early-stage synthetic biology company, achieved its first in-lab milestone in December 2020 when it was able to synthetically produce human insulin using its recombinant DNA (rDNA) model and process. The company can achieve upscale production of insulin, potentially lowering the cost of the drug by 30%, as well as identify other prescription drugs that can be manufactured by manipulating microorganisms to express peptide hormones.

rBIO’s approach applies recent breakthroughs in genetics and rDNA science to design new synthetic life that is capable of expressing a wide variety of peptide hormones. The company is using Eserichia coli bacteria as the host for rDNA synthesis of insulin, it stated in a Dec. 17, 2020 press release.

“We targeted insulin for our initial model because it checks two boxes: first, it’s a specialty drug that is priced too high for many people who depend on it and, second, its supply chain is vulnerable,” said Cameron Owen, founder and CEO of rBIO, in the company press release. “Our goal is to reshore insulin manufacturing to the United States and make this crucial hormone available at a lower cost for the millions of Americans suffering from diabetes.”

Having achieved lab-scale production of human insulin, the company’s next step is to increase insulin yields prior to seeking FDA approval. rBIO has also developed a shortlist of eight drugs that can be synthesized with this unique coding approach. “Our results with insulin clearly demonstrate that our technique works, so we’re also looking at epinephrine and erythropoietin, among others,” added Owen.


“There are a wide array of biological products that can be synthesized with this rDNA approach,” said Dr. Debanjan Dhar, professor of medicine at University of California, San Diego, in the press release. “Single-celled organisms like yeast, bacteria, and algae can be harnessed to drive the next manufacturing boom of biological products needed to meet patient demand for crucial drugs."

Source: rBIO