Remberto Martis, CEO & Dr. Ricarda Finnern, Chief Scientific Officer
A couple of years back, Remberto Martis, the CEO of LenioBio, was working as the business developer for the Fraunhofer IME when he first came across the cell-free technology for protein expression. Developed by Fraunhofer IME in collaboration with DowDuPont, this cell-free approach is a unique technology with high potential, especially if it can be scaled. It made Martis immediately realise how this technology had a disruptive ability to change the way proteins are produced—from discovery to marketing phase—in pharma, food, and other industries. To make the best possible use of that ability, he obtained an exclusive license from DowDuPont to commercialise the cell-free protein expression technology and started LenioBio in 2016 as a biotechnology company specialising in protein expression solutions.
LenioBio is a Düsseldorf-based organisation that develops efficient and sustainable technologies to disrupt the way medicines and food are produced for those in need, wherever they are. Besides producing proteins on demand at any location, the company reduces the time required to develop and market the medications. “With the belief that every person should have the opportunity to live a healthy and productive life, we apply nature for better science,” says Dr. Ricarda Finnern, who was brought in as the Chief Scientific Officer at LenioBio in 2019 to further scale the company’s cell-free protein expression technology.
“I believe we have a breakthrough solution to open numerous opportunities for organisations focusing on cell systems for the production of proteins,” adds Dr. Finnern, talking about LenioBio’s cell-free production platform, ALiCE. It facilitates the large-scale production and processing of plant cells to obtain their cell-free extracts to produce protein. ALiCE, being an open system, helps find the right conditions for producing the protein that the customers are interested in. Furthermore, to obtain this target protein of interest, customers need to add the genetic information, DNA plasmid or PCR product to the lysate and extracts that LenioBio develops. The company’s easy-to-use eukaryotic system also has the ability to produce proteins in the cytosol and the microsomes, where the microsomal expression allows for post translational modifications such as disulfide bonding and glycosylation. As a fast, robust expression system, ALiCE also allows high throughput screening of these target proteins and produces them with more in-depth characterisation at a larger scale in just two days.
LenioBio’s platform has delivered significant value to biotech and pharma organisations and universities around the globe with the production of peptides, antibodies, enzyme, and all other kinds of proteins with post translational modifications. Dr. Finnern goes on to highlight one such instance where a professor at the University of Maryland produced active insulin using the ALiCE system. Additionally, many customers have started producing full-size antibodies, GPCRs, and other membrane-bound proteins using LenioBio’s cell-free platform.
While a few other companies in the pharma market have taken cell-free production platform to scale, LenioBio is the only one to have gained eukaryotic acceptance. The company, at present, is focusing on the scaling of ALiCE to coach its customers about the opportunities and use cases of the cell-free expression technology. This will help businesses in further exploring the properties of ALiCE beyond using it as an open system to identify the optimal production conditions of yield and activity. LenioBio also has a product pipeline mapped out for the next 3-4 years, which it will vehemently follow going forward. “We also have plans to operate as a CDMO in the near future, bringing about good manufacturing practices to uncover the hidden potential of pharma,” concludes Dr. Finnern.