What Makes CRISPR Like a Movie Star? SynBioBeta podcast with Nandini Krishnamurthy

Nandini Krishnamurthy, Inscripta’s VP of Microbial Business, appeared as a guest on SynBioBeta’s Built with Biology podcast. The new podcast series hosted by Fiona Mischel explores the question “How can we use biology to build a better world?” This episode explored how CRISPR editing can enhance food production and food security around the world.

As VP of Microbial Business Area, Krishnamurthy focuses on how cutting-edge technologies like the Onyx® Digital Genome Engineering Platform can be used for different applications – from food production to discovery of natural products. She is constantly thinking about the problems that can be solved with biology, understanding the needs of the market, and talking to customers to make sure Inscripta is developing products and tools to help achieve their goals.

In the area of food and food sustainability, there are a lot of ways Onyx platform can be used: protecting crop yields by moving away from pesticide use to green chemistry using engineered microbes, producing amino acids, vitamins, dairy substitutes, plant proteins by fermentation, and reducing land use by using efficient microbial cell factories for more sustainable food production.

The bigger question is how can these technologies help under-served communities that are much more vulnerable to climate change and supply chain disruptions? Krishnamurthy thinks the key to making innovation more accessible and widespread is making it easier to use: “Speed, scale and access is what we need for communities to be able to implement these technologies”, she said. Her vision is that every non-scientific person can name things around them built with biology: “It should become so every day.”

The host also had many questions about Inscripta’s MAD7TM nuclease, an alternative CRISPR enzyme to the more famous Cas9. Cas9’s fame could be compared to that of a movie star; but what does that make MAD7? Unlike Cas9 which is restricted by licensing limitations, the MAD7 nuclease sequence has been released to the community by Inscripta to be used without reach-through royalties for most research applications.

Krishnamurthy prefers to think about it not as the main actor, but as a small piece of the puzzle. Inscripta’s goal is to scale up the genome editing process, and there are a lot of parts that come into play to do that: the editing cassette design, proprietary chemistry, high-performance microfluidics and engineering on the instrument, and software analytics – all in addition to the MAD7 nuclease. All of this has to come together to make an “Oscar-winning movie.”

Listen to the full podcast here.