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Edge: Rethinking Cost-Prohibitive Biomanufacturing to Fuel Innovation

“At Edge, we believe we can build the infrastructure to enable the production of animal proteins in an ethical and climate-friendly way, side-stepping livestock agriculture.”

- Manny Tamargo, Co-founder and CEO of Edge

Enjoying real meat in your meal, free from the exploitation of animals or the consequences of factory farming on the climate.

Integrating stem cells with skin and hair care, harnessing your body’s natural regenerative power to restore, brighten, and rejuvenate.

These are two of many promises made by the synthetic biology industry. We want to make these promises inevitable, bringing forth the ethical and sustainable future of food production and cosmetics manufacturing.

At Edge, we are rethinking cost-prohibitive biomanufacturing steps to produce low cost, rich, and nature-inspired ingredients, fueling innovation in the cultivated protein and cosmetics industries.

Removing Roadblocks in the Cell Cultivation Process

Manufacturing cells is prohibitively expensive and time consuming – a fact that’s often regarded as a blindside of companies looking to bring products like cultured meat and bioengineered cosmetics to grocery aisles and department store shelves near you. Journalists have argued it is more likely that unrealistic timeframes and hefty price tags, not scientific limitations, will relegate the business of large-scale biomanufacturing to the field of dreams.

That’s why, at Edge, we aim to remove roadblocks in the traditional cell cultivation process. How? By rethinking the way we use growth factors.

Growth factors are the lifeblood of mammalian cells … quite literally. They allow cells to multiply and thrive, and are critical to their survival outside of a body. Unfortunately, in addition to being vital to cell culture, they are also complex and extremely costly to produce.

This is largely due to the way they’re manufactured.

Recombinant growth factors are traditionally produced using bacteria. The problem with this approach is that the bacteria produce much more than just the growth factors we’re after. By the end of the microbe’s growth process, the lion's share of the mass in the bioreactor is a slurry of bacterial-gunk and the toxic waste they produce – all of which must be sifted through to isolate a vile-sized portion of purified growth factors.

This costly and complex process of separating the target product from the rest of the bioreactor output is referred to as downstream processing, and it’s a major contributor to the economic impracticality of large-scale cell cultivation for food and cosmetics production.

Our "edge" is that we use mammalian mesenchymal cells instead of bacteria. The difference here is that the mass we’re left with in the bioreactor isn’t a slurry of toxic waste, but rather a conditioned media consisting of the same bio-active ingredients that would be produced in an animal’s body. We clean and concentrate the mixture, but don’t have to isolate the growth factors from the media. In doing so, we provide the media as it is – a rich broth of proteins, metabolites, peptides, exosomes, lipids, nutrients, and, of course, growth factors.

Biocomplex, yet waste free.

With our final product, we not only offer a high-quality conditioned media that supports cell differentiation, viability, regeneration, and proliferation, but also significantly divest from the cost-prohibitive and time-intensive process of downstream processing.

Our Long-Term Vision: Bypassing Downstream Processing

Producing our conditioned media is only the first step toward our long-term goal of eliminating cost-prohibitive downstream processing.

Our vision is to couple proprietary engineered cells with our own plug-and-play growth factor production unit that is adaptable to the many existing bioprocesses today. The unit would attach to a bioreactor containing growing cells and produce growth factors to feed them in a self-sustained and physically-isolated manner – a method of cell manufacturing commonly known as cell co-culturing.

We find ourselves at the forefront of this biotechnology, sharing the space with leaders in the field also exploring co-culturing methods, including companies Fork-and-Good and Integriculture, as well as pioneering Professor Shulamit Levenberg.

In a recent publication, Dr. Levenberg highlights the promising potential of this method of cell growth in her research paper on the co-culture approach to cultivated meat production

“... in co-cultures one cell type can exploit the secretome of other cell types, thereby reducing the need for exogenous supplementation of the cell media with growth factors and serum. Moreover, co-cultures can improve growth and differentiation rates, and thus may shorten production time and costs.”

We are confident in our alignment with other industry experts like Dr. Levenberg and the Good Food Institute in recognizing and pursuing the promising future of the co-culture method.

The first step to making affordable, sustainable, and widely accessible cell-derived alternatives a reality is to simplify the process by which they’re grown. This is where we find our focus.

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