Published on November 27, 2023, 8:47 pm

Accelerating Protein Engineering For A Sustainable Future: How Cradle Is Utilizing Generative Ai

Generative AI has been making waves in the tech industry ever since OpenAI released its chatbot, ChatGPT, almost a year ago. The possibilities of generative AI go far beyond chatbots and image generation. Cradle, a biotech software startup based in Delft, Netherlands, is leveraging generative AI to assist biologists in engineering enhanced proteins. By doing so, they are accelerating the development of synthetic bio-solutions for human and planetary health.

In the field of synthetic biology, scientists utilize engineering principles to create new biological systems. With the ability to manipulate DNA and other biological elements, researchers can equip existing organisms with new functionalities. This opens up exciting opportunities for applications such as producing medicine using bacteria, creating non-animal whey proteins and detergents without petrochemicals, developing biofuels through yeast, and cultivating crops that thrive in challenging environments.

Proteins serve as the building blocks for all these products. However, modifying their characteristics often involves altering their DNA sequences – a complex task due to the inherent complexity of DNA programming language. Traditionally, this process would be time-consuming and expensive. That’s where Cradle’s web-based software comes into play.

Cradle has developed an AI platform that generates molecule sequences with a higher probability of matching what researchers are looking for. This significantly reduces the need for extensive trial and error experiments by scientists themselves. As a result, R&D time and costs are drastically reduced. In fact, Cradle’s software has demonstrated the ability to accelerate projects at twice the speed compared to industry averages.

To develop their proprietary AI model, Cradle trained it on billions of protein sequences as well as data generated in their own laboratory. By increasing the chances of success when testing molecules in a lab environment, their solution enables faster R&D cycles and drives down costs – pivotal factors when bringing innovative products to market.

Driven by his desire to make a positive impact, Stef van Grieken, co-founder and CEO of Cradle, left his former position as Senior Product Manager for Google AI to establish the synbio AI startup in the Netherlands. His goal is simple: to help companies replace petrochemical or animal-based products with more sustainable and cost-effective bio-based alternatives.

Since its founding in 2021 by van Grieken and bioengineer Elise de Reuse, Cradle has gained industry recognition with partnerships including Johnson & Johnson. Recently, the company secured $24 million in a Series A funding round led by Index Ventures, with participation from Kindred Capital and notable angel investors like Chris Gibson (co-founder and CEO of Recursion) and Tom Glocer (former CEO of Thomson Reuters).

The fresh influx of capital will allow Cradle to expand its team, enhance laboratory and engineering facilities in Amsterdam, and further develop their platform to cater to increasing customer demand.

With generative AI revolutionizing different industries, it’s fascinating to see how companies like Cradle are utilizing this technology to drive advancements in protein engineering. By leveraging the power of AI, they are accelerating R&D processes and making significant strides towards a more sustainable future for human and planetary health.


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