Bio Eats World

By Andreessen Horowitz

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Description

Biology is breaking out of the lab and clinic—and into our daily lives. Our new ability to engineer biology is transforming not just science, research, and healthcare, but how we produce our food, the materials we use, how we manufacture, and much, much more. From the latest scientific advances to the biggest trends, this show explores all the ways biology is today where the computing revolution was 50 years ago: on the precipice of revolutionizing our world in ways we are only just beginning to appreciate. Through conversations with scientists, builders, entrepreneurs, and leaders, hosts Hanne Winarsky and Lauren Richardson (along with the team at Andreessen Horowitz), examine how bio is going to fundamentally transform our future. In short, bio is eating the world.

Episode Date
The Genetics of Risk
00:31:05
Genetic testing is on the cusp of a major revolution, which has the potential to shift not just how we understand our risk for disease, but how we practice healthcare. In the clinic today, genetic testing is used only in cases where we know that mutations have big impact on physiology (BRCA mutations in breast cancer, for example). But our knowledge of how our genetics influences our risk for disease has evolved, and we now know that many (tens of thousands to even millions) small changes in our genes, each of which individually has a tiny effect, combine to influence our risk profile. This new appreciation — coupled with powerful statistical methods and massive datasets — has fueled the creation of a new tool to quantify the risk of a broad range of common diseases: the polygenic risk score. On this episode, host Lauren Richardson (@lr_bio) is joined by Dr. Peter Donnelly, (@genemodeller Professor of Statistical Science at the University of Oxford and the CEO of Genomics PLC,) and Vineeta Agarwala, (@vintweeta physician-scientist and general partner at a16z), to discuss these scores and how they can reshape healthcare, away from a paradigm of treating illness and towards prevention and maintenance of health.
Jan 18, 2021
Journal Club: Synthetic Germs, Our Newest Weapon for Fighting Cancer
00:21:43

Dr. Willem Mulder is a Professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, Eindhoven University of Technology, and  Radboud University Medical Center and is a co-founder of Trained Therapeutix Discovery. He joins host Lauren Richardson to discuss the results and implications of the article "Trained Immunity-Promoting Nanobiologic Therapy Suppresses Tumor Growth and Potentiates Checkpoint Inhibition" by Bram Priem, Mandy M.T. van Leent, Abraham J.P. Teunissen, Alexandros Marios Sofias, Vera P. Mourits, Lisa Willemsen, Emma D. Klein, Roderick S. Oosterwijk, Anu E. Meerwaldt, Jazz Munitz, Geoffrey Pre ́vot, Anna Vera Verschuur, Sheqouia A. Nauta, Esther M. van Leeuwen, Elizabeth L. Fisher, Karen A.M. de Jong, Yiming Zhao, Yohana C. Toner, Georgios Soultanidis, Claudia Calcagno, Paul H.H. Bomans, Heiner Friedrich, Nico Sommerdijk, Thomas Reiner, Raphae ̈l Duivenvoorden, Eva Zupancic, Julie S. Di Martino, Ewelina Kluza, Mohammad Rashidian, Hidde L. Ploegh, Rick M. Dijkhuizen, Sjoerd Hak, Carlos Pe ́ rez-Medina, Jose Javier Bravo-Cordero, Menno P.J. de Winther, Leo A.B. Joosten, Andrea van Elsas, Zahi A. Fayad, Alexander Rialdi, Denis Torre, Ernesto Guccione, Jordi Ochando, Mihai G. Netea, Arjan W. Griffioen, and Willem J.M. Mulder, published in Cell.

 

For more on the innate immune system, also check out "Journal Club: Why do only some people get severe COVID-19?" and "Journal Club: How to Win an Evolutionary Arms Race"

Jan 14, 2021
The Biology of Brain Organoids (or, Don't Call it a Brain in a Dish!)
00:43:39

For more on brain organoids and their many applications, check out this episode of Journal Club: "Modeling Mysterious Brain Structures." Host Lauren Richardson talks to Dr. Madeline Lancaster, a Group Leader at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, about her lab's article in Science describing an organoid model for studying the cerebrospinal fluid and the choroid plexus, and how these organoids can be used to study brain development, evolution, and improve the drug development process.

Jan 11, 2021
Journal Club: Why do only some people get severe COVID-19?
00:28:16

Dr. Helen Su, Chief of the Human Immunological Diseases Section at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (part of the NIH) and co-leader of the COVID Human Genetic Effort, joins host Lauren Richardson to discuss the results and implications of the articles "Inborn errors of type I IFN immunity in patients with life-threatening COVID-19"  and "Autoantibodies against type I IFNs in patients with life-threatening COVID-19", both published in Science. 

Jan 07, 2021
So You Wanna Build a Software Company in Healthcare?
00:38:18
Building a software company in healthcare is hard—and comes along with unique challenges no other entrepreneurs face. In this conversation, a16z bio general partner (and previous founder of genomics company Knome) Jorge Conde; and a16z bio partner and former founder Julie Yoo (of patient provider matching system, Kyruus) share their mistakes and hard earned lessons learned with Bio Eats World host Hanne Winarsky in this now classic episode, first aired on the a16z Podcast. Why is this so damn hard? How should founders think about this space differently? What are the specific things that healthcare founders can do—when, where, and why? You wish you only knew all this when you started your own company.
Jan 04, 2021
The Machine That Made the Vaccine
00:39:06
A year ago, none of us would believe that mRNA vaccines would be a household name. And yet here we are, at the end of 2020, counting the days towards a vaccine that could not just save lives but help bring us back into a world that feels “normal” again. In this special episode, airing the day the FDA authorized the vaccine for emergency use, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel tells the story of not just the vaccine’s development, but the machine that made the vaccine: the platform, the technology, and the moves behind the vaccine’s development. This episode of Bio Eats World takes us from a world of pipette and lab benches to a world of industrial robots making medicines: We used to grow our vaccines, now we can “print” them, getting them to patients faster and more efficiently than ever before. In conversation with a16z general partner Jorge Conde and Bio Eats World host Hanne Winarsky, Bancel describes the exact moment he realized they might actually be able to make a vaccine for Covid-19; what happened next to go from pathogen to design; how this new technology that uses mRNA works (in a chocolate mousse metaphor!), and what makes it different from “old” vaccines; and how to think about managing both innovation and speed in this world. Why is this such a fundamental shift in the world of drug development? And where will this technology go next?
Dec 18, 2020
The Cost Disease in Healthcare
00:29:18
with @pmarca and @vijaypande How come things like healthcare, education, and housing get more and more expensive, but things like socks, shoes, and electronics all get cheaper and cheaper? In this episode of Bio Eats World, a16z founder and internet pioneer Marc Andreessen, and General Partner Vijay Pande, discuss the lesser known law of economics that explains why healthcare, education and housing is so damn expensive, and getting worse. What’s really at heart is tech’s ability to transform (expensive) services into (affordable) goods: think of the cost of a live string quartet, versus a streamed recorded track; or the cost of a custom-made shoe, versus a factory-made one. Until now, using tech to similarly transform services into goods in healthcare has seemed like an impossible dream — how would you do this for, say, the service of doctors providing care? But in this wide ranging conversation all about technology and society across all industries, Andreessen and Pande talk about the massive new gains recent technologies have begun to make this seem within reach, from eye surgery in malls to using AI in processing medical claims. Is there a future in which what doctors are doing today feels analogous to farmers hand plowing fields 300 years ago? And what would the role of that doctor of the future be?
Dec 14, 2020
Journal Club: How to Win an Evolutionary Arms Race
00:25:15

Harmit Malik, PhD (Professor and Associate Director of the Basic Sciences Division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center) joins host Lauren Richardson to discuss the results and implications of the article "Mutational resilience of antiviral restriction favors primate TRIM5α in host-virus evolutionary arms races", by Jeannette L Tenthorey, Candice Young, Afeez Sodeinde, Michael Emerman, and Harmit S Malik,  published in eLife.

Dec 10, 2020
The Google Maps Moment in (Modeling) Biology
00:32:31
You don't have to build a million planes to test a million aeronautical designs; we have mathematical simulations and models that do that for us. But in biology—once the class you'd take in high school if you loved science, but hated math—that's been impossible... until very recently. In this episode, Markus Covert, Professor of Bioengineering at Stanford, a16z deal partner Judy Savitskaya, and Bio Eats World host Hanne Winarsky, talk all about where we are in our ability to simulate and build models for how biology works. Because biology has been so qualitative in the past, and so complex, it's been extremely difficult to translate samples that are, say, gel smudges on a plate into the kind of qualitative data we need for these simulations and models. But we're finally reaching the “Google Maps” moment in biology, Covert says, beginning to be able to build models at the single molecule level, of genetic circuits, whole cells, the dynamic interactions between different cells, map them onto larger networks like tissue… even, of course, model on a global level the effects of a pandemic. The conversation covers Marcus’ story of the Eureka moment behind the first whole cell model; what this new ability to simulate and model will allow us to understand and predict that we haven’t been able to before; and why it all matters—how these tools are bringing us into a new era of designing new functionalities, even new kinds of biological life.
Dec 07, 2020
Journal Club: Bioengineering Birth
00:17:31

Anthony Atala, MD (the G. Link Professor and Director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and the W. Boyce Professor and Chair of Urology), joins host Lauren Richardson to discuss the results and implications of the article "A tissue-engineered uterus supports live births in rabbits" published in Nature Biotechnology.

Dec 03, 2020
The Story of Schizophrenia
00:37:53
Descriptions of the mental illness we today call schizophrenia are as old as humankind itself. And more than likely, we are are all familiar with this disease in some way, as it touches 1% of us—millions of lives—and of course, their families. In this episode, we dive into the remarkable story of one such American family, the Galvins: Mimi, Don, and their 12 children, 6 of whom were afflicted with schizophrenia. In his book, Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family, Robert Kolker follows the Galvins from the 1950s to today—through, he writes, “the eras of institutionalization and shock therapy, the debates between psycho-therapy versus medication, the needle-in-a-haystack search for genetic markers for the disease, and the profound disagreements about the cause and origin of the illness itself.” Because of that, this is really more than just a portrait of one family; it’s a portrait of how we have struggled over the last decades to understand this mysterious and devastating mental illness: the biology of it, the drivers, the behaviors and pathology, the genomics, and of course the search for treatments that might help, from lobotomies to ECT to thorazine. Also joining Robert Kolker and a16z’s Hanne Winarsky in this conversation is Stefan McDonough, Executive Director of Genetics at Pfizer World R&D, one of the genetic researchers who worked closely with the Galvins. The conversation follows the key moments where our understanding of this disease began to shift, especially with new technologies and the advent of the Human Genome Project—and finally where we are today, and where our next big break might come from.
Nov 30, 2020
Food as Medicine
00:19:46
We all know that eating healthy is better for you—and that following that advice is far harder than it sounds, for a multitude of reasons, from culture to preferences to access and affordability. And yet the reality is that access to good, nutritious food is perhaps the most powerful medical treatment we have, when it comes not just preventing sickness, but helping sick people get better—and potentially saving the healthcare system potentially billions in treating chronic disease. So what happens if we begin to treat food truly as a medicine in the healthcare system? How can we really implement this "medicine" into the healthcare system? What are the different approaches, from food delivery to packaging to the content of the meal itself? How can food as a medicine be distributed, paid for and reimbursed, and what role can technology take in increasing access, distribution, and more? In this conversation, a16z General Partner Julie Yoo talks with Dr. Andrea Feinberg, previously the Founder and Medical Director of Geisinger Fresh Food Farmacy and Josh Hix, entrepreneur and co-founder of the food delivery start up Plated; a16z all about what food as a medicine might look like, whether personal taste and variety matters, how technology might not just help access but shift our snacking tendencies towards health, and the enormous opportunity to impact chronic disease through addressing food insecurity.
Nov 24, 2020
Journal Club: Decoding Developmental Disorders
00:21:44

Vineeta Agarwala, physician and a16z general partner, and host Lauren Richardson discuss the Nature article "Evidence for 28 genetic disorders discovered by combining healthcare and research data", its key implications, and how this work can impact patients and parents.  

Nov 19, 2020
Health—at What Price?
00:31:13
Imagine if the airline industry did not post prices for flights in advance. What if instead of posting fares on travel sites, airlines argued they could only bill you after the flight, because they didn't know what the fuel price will be that day; whether or not you would consume a beverage; if the flight might be diverted or delayed; whether that pilot would have to work harder and bill more in their coding of the flight after they land? And yet, this is exactly what happens in healthcare. Despite the cost crisis in healthcare, we still don't talk about prices—prices for procedures, for visits, for services. But in January 2021, thanks to new regulation, that will change. In this episode, a16z General Partner Julie Yoo talks with Dr. Marty Makary, surgical oncologist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, health policy expert—and a longtime advocate for transparent pricing in the healthcare system. Makary argues that making prices obvious will change all kinds of behaviors in the healthcare system, not just allowing consumers to "shop" for the best value of different healthcare services, but will drive higher quality standards; minimize things like surprise billing and incentives towards volume; increase the rigor of analyzing the medical appropriateness of certain clinical decisions (do we need this elective procedure or not? is it good longterm value?); affect even how we choose our doctors; and much more.
Nov 16, 2020
Journal Club: Defeating Type 1 Diabetes
00:20:11

Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease with no cure and challenging treatment regimes. The disease is characterized by self-reactive immune cells that attack and destroy cells in the pancreas that produce insulin and are essential for regulating metabolism, called beta cells.

Since the advent of stem cell technology, scientists have dreamed of curing Type 1 Diabetes by replacing the beta cells lost to disease with lab grown, stem cell-derived beta cells. However, it wasn't until recent work from Ronald Evans' lab at the Salk Institute that this dream started to become a reality. First, in 2016, Evans and colleagues identified a critical genetic switch needed to activate stem cell-derived beta cells. Second, in the article we discuss today, they figured out how to produce not just the beta cells from stem cells, but their entire cellular compartment, called the pancreatic islet. They call these synthetic islets HILOs (human islet-like organoids). Even more importantly, they devised a way to shield the HILOs from the immune system. This molecular shield, which they learned about from studying how pancreatic cancer cells evade the immune system, is the key to the long term survival of the HILOs despite this chronic autoimmune response.

In this conversation, host Lauren Richardson and Dr. Evans cover these key breakthroughs, the next steps for moving this proof-of-concept research into the clinic, and how these HILOs might represent a curative treatment for this devastating and life-long condition. 

Nov 12, 2020
We, the Patients
00:35:16
Healthcare is perhaps unique in that the entire system exists entirely to serve the patient... and yet, in many ways, that same patient is not the customer. In fact, the patient—and the patient's voice—can often be lost or overlooked in the enormous, complex, convoluted business flows, between a huge system of providers, in elaborate clinical work flows, in insurance coverage and reimbursements, or in high level policy debates. In this episode, a16z General Partner Julie Yoo and a16z partner Jay Rughani talk with Freda Lewis Hall—a physician; formerly Pfizer’s Chief Patient Officer and Chief Medical Officer; Chief Medical Officer at Vertex; and who among many other roles was appointed by the Obama Administration to the Board of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)—all about what happens when you rethink the entire healthcare system from the patient's point of view. We tell patients what they need, instead of asking them what they need—let alone listen to the answer. From drug development to healthcare delivery to clinical trials, what changes in our system when we think about everything from the patient’s perspective? How do we better understand what patients need, and better serve them? What tools and new approaches can we use to truly put the patient at the center of the healthcare system?
Nov 09, 2020
Journal Club: Architecting an Aggressive Cancer
00:22:44

Mechanical forces and architecture may not sound very "bio", but they are key tools of epidermal stem cells.  These stem cells essentially engineer their environment by producing both the cells above them (the skin cells) and the extracellular matrix mesh (the basement membrane) that they sit on. In this episode we explore whether, when these stem cells acquire oncogenic mutations (the ones that cause cancer), do they now architect in a different way, and does this influence the development of cancer?

Host Lauren Richardson and Professor Elaine Fuchs of Rockefeller University discuss her lab's recent Nature article "Mechanics of a multilayer epithelium instruct tumour architecture and function". The article investigates the differences in mechanical forces and tissue architecture in two distinct types of skin cancer: one that tends to be begin and non-invasive and one that tends to be aggressive and metastatic. The conversation covers how computational modeling played a critical role in uncovering new sources of forces and how changes in architecture influence invasive properties.

Nov 05, 2020
The Thermodynamics of Life
00:24:40
with @lifelikephysics, @vijaypande, and @omnivorousread Where does life truly begin? How do we understand the fundamental nature of what is “alive” and what is “not alive”? In this episode of Bio Eats World, Professor Jeremy England discusses his new book, Every Life is on Fire, all about how what we might use physics to understand to be the origins of life—and how we define what being alive is. As biologists, we are taught that life evolved as the result of Darwinian natural selection. But what happens if instead, you use a physicist’s lens to examine what life looks to be—and define it as a specialized order and relationship between matter and the patterns of it’s an environment? England—a senior director in artificial intelligence at GlaxoSmithKline, principal research scientist at Georgia Tech, former associate professor of physics at MIT, and one of Forbes’ “30 Under 30 Rising Stars of Science”—describes this new idea as “dissapative adaptation”. The conversation covers how looking at “life” in these terms changes what we understand to be alive and what the nature of "life" is; sheds new light on the “queasy middle ground” between those definitions, especially in areas like machine learning and AI; and allows us to ask new questions about things like what makes DNA so special, and what life can do.
Nov 02, 2020
Journal Club: From Insect Eyes to Nanomaterials
00:20:07

On this episode of the Bio Eats World Journal Club, a16z bio deal team partner Judy Savitskaya and host Lauren Richardson discuss a new article that makes the full arc from basic science discovery to application. The article -- "Reverse and forward engineering of Drosophila corneal nanocoatings" by Mikhail Kryuchkov, Oleksii Bilousov, Jannis Lehmann, Manfred Fiebig & Vladimir L. Katanaev, published in Nature -- and the conversation begin by discussing insect eye nanocoatings, which give eyes key properties like anti-reflectiveness and anti-adhesiveness. The authors show these nanocoatings are formed by a self-assembling mechanism known as a Turing Pattern. But why do we care about fly eye nanocoatings and their patterns? Why did Alan Turing spend his time studying the basis biological patterns? As we discuss, understanding this patterning revealed a new method for creating nanostructured materials, which today is a high tech and costly process. We cover the reverse and forward engineering these nanostructures, the beauty of Turing Patterns, and how one could build a startup around this nanostructure technology. 

Oct 29, 2020
It's Time to Build in Healthcare: COVID-19, Innovation, and What Comes Next
00:26:52
In this episode of Bio Eats World, a16z founder and internet pioneer Marc Andreessen and general partner Jorge Conde zoom out to discuss the large scale societal effects of the current pandemic on society, healthcare, biotech, and innovation. COVID-19 has been catastrophic—but also catalyzed enormous change and a dramatic groundswell of innovation. Where are we now? Which of these changes will stay, and which may recede? What new innovations and impacts might be still to come, and what are we learning that can be applied towards the future? Building on Marc Andreessen's article and call to action, “It’s Time to Build,” Jorge and Marc discuss what needs to be built in healthcare today (for example, would a pandemic warning system help us next time?); the impact of COVID-19 on innovation and mindsets in the biopharma industry; the shift towards measuring output that could spur more innovation; and finally, what biopharma and venture capital have in common in terms of risk and experimentation that might serve as a much broader model.
Oct 26, 2020
Journal Club: Reversing Parkinson's with New Neurons
00:26:27

Neurons do not divide or replicate, so how can we replace neurons killed by neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's Disease? On the Bio Eats World Journal Club, UCSD Professor Xiang-Dong Fu and host Lauren Richardson discuss his team's work generating new neurons in the brain by inducing non-neuronal cells to become neurons. The conversation covers how they programmed this cell type conversion, how they verified that these newly created neurons were functioning correctly, and how they demonstrated that these neurons could replace those destroyed in a mouse model of Parkinson's Disease, reversing the disease phenotype. This work paves the way for a potential curative treatment for this and other devastating neurodegenerative and neurological diseases.

"Reversing a model of Parkinson’s disease with in situ converted nigral neurons" by Hao Qian, Xinjiang Kang, Jing Hu, Dongyang Zhang, Zhengyu Liang, Fan Meng, Xuan Zhang, Yuanchao Xue1, Roy Maimon, Steven F. Dowdy, Neal K. Devaraj, Zhuan Zhou, William C. Mobley, Don W. Cleveland & Xiang-Dong Fu. 

Oct 22, 2020
The Biology of Pain
00:37:26
Why do we experience physical pain? Is all pain the same, or are there different types? Do people experience pain differently? Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School Clifford Woolf, and Bio Eats World host Hanne Winarsky talk about everything we know about the biology of pain. Technology is today enabling a new, deeper, and much more complex understanding of the phenomenon of pain. Which pathways and neurons are activated in the brain and when, and what patterns might represent different kinds of pain? In this episode (first aired on the a16z Podcast in September 2019), Woolf describes the four different phenotypes of pain, the purpose of each, and what changes when we begin to understand them as distinct types. What does it mean for how we can treat pain in the future… and where we can intervene?
Oct 19, 2020
Journal Club: Super-Scaling COVID-19 Testing with DNA Sequencing
00:18:43

There is a wide range of diagnostic tests for COVID-19 that are all well suited for determining whether an individual patient is sick with the virus. But to safely reopen society in the absence of a vaccine, we need tests that can be given broadly across a population, including to people who are asymptomatic. Many of these existing tests cannot be administered at this grand scale. That is where SwabSeq comes in. SwabSeq is an open source COVID-19 diagnostic platform that leverages the power of genomics to vastly increase the scale of testing. 

On this episode of the Bio Eats World Journal Club, host Lauren Richardson discusses the pre-print article "Swab-Seq: A high-throughput platform for massively scaled up SARS-CoV-2 testing" with two of the authors, Sri Kosuri of Octant  and Valerie Arboleda of UCLA. The original concept and design of this sequencing based approach was developed at Octant (a drug discovery startup co-founded by Kosuri, who is also a professor at UCLA), and the conversation covers the origins of of the method, why they decided to develop the test as an open source project and how sequencing increases scalability. Kosuri, Arboleda, and a team at UCLA built SwabSeq into a validated diagnostic platform that recently received an Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. 

Oct 15, 2020
Biology by Design
00:32:15
We’re at the dawn of a new era where we’re truly able to design biology: from genetically engineered cotton, to meat made from plants, to incredibly complex new therapies composed of engineered cells and genes. And that's just the very beginning. One day, just about everything will be genetically engineered, from our medicines to our materials and manufacturing and much more. The question is no longer, can we design biology? Instead the question now is, what can we build with these tools? So how does that really happen? How can we build precise functions and circuits inside cells? How might we we engineer a cell to sense and perceive its environment, and respond to it? What new generation of companies will be built around these new capabilities? In this episode, Alec Nielsen, co-founder and CEO of Asimov, a company that builds tools to program living cells; Vijay Pande, General Partner at a16z; and Bio Eats World host Hanne Winarsky talk about where we are on the way to this future, what scientific and industry breakthroughs got us here, and the new tools we need—libraries of genetic parts, new platforms, computer simulations and more—to truly design living systems.
Oct 13, 2020
Journal Club: Turning a Toxin into a Genome Editing Tool
00:21:12

Over the past 15 years we have made huge advances in our ability to engineer the genome, meaning that we now have the ability to edit DNA in a programmable and precise manner. In the lab, these editing tools allow us to create models of disease and to investigate how changes in the genome lead to changes in cell and organismal biology. And excitingly, these genome editing technologies are now entering clinical trials to treat, and possibly cure, diseases like sickle cell anemia. But there is a component of the human genome which even the much lauded and powerful CRISPR system has not been able to touch: the mitochondrial DNA. 

The mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell and contain their own, much smaller, genomes which encode several essential proteins and RNAs. Mutations in the mitochondrial genome are the cause of over 150 diseases, but to date, fixing these mutations with gene editing and gene therapy has been off the table due to the inaccessibility of this genome. 

In this episode of Journal Club, a16z general partner Jorge Conde and bio deal team partner, Andy Tran – experts in genomics and genome engineering – join Lauren Richardson to discuss groundbreaking research creating the first genome editor able to target the mitochondrial DNA: "A bacterial cytidine deaminase toxin enables CRISPR-free mitochondrial base editing" by Beverly Y. Mok Marcos H. de Moraes, Jun Zeng, Dustin E. Bosch, Anna V. Kotrys, Aditya Raguram, FoSheng Hsu, Matthew C. Radey, S. Brook Peterson, Vamsi K. Mootha, Joseph D. Mougous & David R. Liu, published in Nature. 

We discuss what makes the mitochondrial genome distinct, how this new tool – which was derived from a bacterial toxin – was engineered for both safety and specificity, and the important applications for this new editor. 

Oct 08, 2020
Going Back to the Workplace in a Pandemic
00:25:28
It's not normal to talk to your employer about the details of your health: your current temperature, who you've been exposed to, whether your kid is sick, whether or not you've been social distancing. So how do employers handle and manage this entirely new process of employees returning to the workplace in the midst of an ongoing pandemic? In this episode of Bio Eats World, Vineeta Agarwala (general partner at a16z), Phong Nguyen (EVP and General Manager at Accolade), Ryan Sandler (CEO and Cofounder of Truework), and Mark Sendak (Population Health & Data Science Lead at the Duke Institute for Health Innovation) talk about what it means for employers to now have to manage employee health in a whole new way, figuring out when it's safe to come back, how, and what tools you need. From monitoring employee health and preventing transmission to triaging what happens when there is a documented case; temperature checks (do they even make sense?); testing (how often and in what way?); and above all, where can technology help, this is an entirely new world for employers and employees both. All these decision trees involve not just a complex business logic and new tools and procedures, but also big issues around employee privacy and trust, and a fundamental shift in the relationship between employer and employee... as this becomes a new feature of our COVID world.
Oct 06, 2020
Journal Club: Modeling Mysterious Brain Structures
00:22:42

The human brain is endlessly fascinating and mysterious, but the majority of brain research to date has focused on neurons and their functions. While the other types of brain cells, such as astrocytes and glia, are starting to get their due, there is another element of the brain that to this day has gone woefully unstudied: the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and the brain structure that produces it, the choroid plexus. The CSF is a clear, colorless fluid found in the brain and spinal cord, and is traditionally thought to protect the brain from injury by acting as a shock absorber. 

In this episode, Madeline Lancaster, a Group Leader at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge and Lauren Richardson discuss the article "Human CNS barrier-forming organoids with cerebrospinal fluid production" by Laura Pellegrini, Claudia Bonfio, Jessica Chadwick, Farida Begum, Mark Skehel, Madeline A. Lancaster published in Science. The paper describes a new model for studying the CSF and the choroid plexus by creating what’s sometimes called a mini-brain or a brain-in-a-dish, but is more accurately known as a cerebral organoid. With this model, Dr. Lancaster and her team were able to reveal new insights into the composition and function of the choroid plexus, and importantly, how it forms a key barrier between the blood and the brain. We discuss the how these organoids can be used to study brain development, evolution, and improve the drug development process.

Oct 01, 2020
Revolutions in Cancer Treament—Past, Present, and Future
00:34:39
with @JorgeCondeBio, @JLimMD, @AmerCancerCEO, and @omnivorousread In this episode of Bio Eats World, we explore all the major revolutions in cancer treatment across the history of medicine—and what’s coming next. Hanne Winarsky delves into the past and future of the fight against cancer with Gary Reedy, CEO of the American Cancer Society; Jonathan Lim, CEO of Erasca, a biotech company with the mission of erasing cancer; and Jorge Conde, a16z general partner. The conversation spans not only the history of cancer treatment from the early days of surgery and the first radiology treatment (with an x-ray!), but also the fundamental nature of cancer—its origins, progressions, and how to stop it; the birth of precision genetic medicine and targeted therapies; our most powerful tools today (both low and high tech); and finally, the coming new tools and revolutions at the very cutting edge of cancer treatment.
Sep 29, 2020
Journal Club: Degrading Drugs for Problematic Proteins
00:24:13

In Bio Eats World's Journal Club episodes, we discuss groundbreaking research articles, why they matter, what new opportunities they present, and how to take these findings from paper to practice. In this episode, Stanford Professor Carolyn Bertozzi and host Lauren Richardson discuss the article "Lysosome-targeting chimaeras for degradation of extracellular proteins" by Steven M. Banik, Kayvon Pedram, Simon Wisnovsky, Green Ahn, Nicholas M. Riley & Carolyn R. Bertozzi, published in Nature584, 291–297 (2020).

Many diseases are caused by proteins that have gone haywire in some fashion. There could be too much of the protein, it could be mutated, or it could be present in the wrong place or time. So how do you get rid of these problematic proteins? Dr. Bertozzi and  her lab developed a class of drugs -- or modality -- that in essence, tosses the disease-related proteins into the cellular trash can. While there are other drugs that work through targeted protein degradation, the drugs created by the Bertozzi team (called LYTACs) are able to attack a set of critical proteins, some of which have never been touched by any kind of drug before. Our conversation covers how they engineered these new drugs, their benefits, and how they can be further optimized and specialized in the future.

Sep 24, 2020
The Biology of Aging
00:26:37
with @LauraDeming, @kpfortney, @vijaypande, and @omnivorousread Welcome to the first episode of Bio Eats World, a brand new podcast all about how biology is technology. Bio is breaking out of the lab and clinic and into our daily lives—on the verge of revolutionizing our world in ways we are only just beginning to imagine. In this episode, we talk all about the science of aging. Once a fringe field, aging research is now entering a new phase with the first clinical trials of aging-related drugs. As the entire field shifts into this moment of translation, what have we learned? What are the basic approaches to developing aging-related drugs? How is studying aging helping us understand diseases like cancer and Alzheimer's—and increasing the amount of time we are healthy—today?  In this conversation, Laura Deming, founder of The Longevity Fund; Kristen Fortney, co-founder of BioAge, a clinical-stage company focused on finding drugs to extend healthspan; Vijay Pande, general partner at a16z; and host Hanne Winarsky discuss the entire arc of aging science from one genetic tweak in a tiny worm to changing a whole paradigm of healthcare delivery.
Sep 22, 2020
Introducing "Bio Eats World"
00:01:39

This new show, from the same team that produces the popular a16z Podcast, will be all about how biology today is where technology was 50 years ago: on the precipice of revolutionizing our world in ways we are only just beginning to appreciate.

Through conversations with scientists, builders, entrepreneurs, and leaders at the intersection of science, tech, and business, the Bio Eats World team, including hosts Hanne Winarsky and Lauren Richardson, examine how biology—and our new ability to engineer it—is going to revolutionize our future, and in ways we are only just beginning to imagine.

Aug 18, 2020