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SynBio: The Science Behind LanzaTech's Success - Forbes

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Date: 2021-09-24 12:22:30

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393282 04: A digital representation of the human genome August 15, 2001 at the American Museum of ... [+] Natural History in New York City. Each color represents one the four chemical compenents of DNA. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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As I explained in my first overview article in this series, LanzaTech is an industrial chemicals business. But to describe it as merely another commodity chemicals producer misses the point entirely.

At its heart, LanzaTech is a cutting-edge synthetic biology or “SynBio” venture. According to Wikipedia, SynBio is “…a multidisciplinary area of research that seeks to create new biological parts, devices, and systems, or to redesign systems that are already found in nature.”

As a generalist, your correspondent tends to shy away from SynBio companies. A few years ago, I dabbled with one – a company recently in the news due to its September 17 IPO via SPAC, Ginkgo Bioworks. I ended up losing interest in the company because the application of its technology seemed so trivial – at the time I looked at the firm, it was mostly producing perfume fragrances.

(My original assessment of Ginkgo turned out not to be completely accurate, according to this New York Times article. Ginkgo’s biological foundry apparently helped design genes that sped development of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine. Now that I understand more about the SynBio process, I may go back and take a closer look at Boston-based Ginkgo.)