Donate to Science & Enterprise

S&E on Mastodon

S&E on LinkedIn

S&E on Flipboard

Please share Science & Enterprise

Biotech to Synthesize Proteins in Microgravity

International Space Station, with Earth in background

International Space Station (

20 Feb. 2023. A biotechnology company synthesizing pure proteins from DNA is preparing to test its process in weightless conditions on the International Space Station. Machine Bio Inc. in Claremont, California is the recipient of a Technology in Space Prize award of $500,000 for the project, from Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, Inc. or CASIS, and aerospace company Boeing.

Machine Bio is a four year-old company developing a technology for synthesizing proteins in a single step without cells from a DNA template. The company says other synthetic processes for protein production use cells, such as yeast, or require additional, time-consuming purification steps even without cells. Machine Bio says its compact bio-membrane process enables direct expression of proteins from DNA into a pure solution as part of the synthesis process, thus removing the need for further purification. The company says it can produce its proteins with this process in a matter of hours or faster.

The Technology in Space Prize award is supporting a test of Machine Bio’s process in microgravity aboard the International Space Station. The test is expected to validate the technology in weightless conditions and reveal possible benefits for protein production. If successful, the Machine Bio process could provide new techniques for biomedical research in low earth orbit, and help prepare for longer spaceflight missions.

CASIS operates the International Space Station National Laboratory for NASA, which provides the Technology in Space Prize award with Boeing and the MassChallenge technology accelerator. ISS National Lab says the program so far awarded $9.7 million to 30 start-ups for research projects, including those undertaken at the space station. In Feb. 2022, Science & Enterprise reported on the company MicroQuin in Cambridge, Mass. that received a Technology in Space Prize for testing effects of weightless conditions on breast and prostate cancer cell development. The tests, begun last year, are comparing cancer cell growth and maturation to healthy cells in microgravity that better simulates internal conditions in the body.

Technology in Space Prize awards provide seed funding for early-stage companies, as well as costs for space station facilities, and in-kind contributions, such as ISS crew time. MassChallenge says the program serves as a business incubator for prize recipients, with start-up awardees eventually receiving more than 25 times as much investment funding as the awards themselves.

More from Science & Enterprise:

We designed Science & Enterprise for busy readers including investors, researchers, entrepreneurs, and students. Except for a narrow cookies and privacy strip for first-time visitors, we have no pop-ups blocking the entire page, nor distracting animated GIF graphics. If you want to subscribe for daily email alerts, you can do that here, or find the link in the upper left-hand corner of the desktop page. The site is free, with no paywall. But, of course, donations are gratefully accepted.

*     *     *


Comments are closed.