Stemloop, Biotech, and Rapid Tests with Khalid Alam
When you’re in the middle of a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, getting timely test results is imperative. Unfortunately, laboratory testing does not scale well due to its centralized testing infrastructure. It also requires sample transportation, complicated equipment, and technical expertise, all of which lead to high costs and time delays that are incompatible with problems that require immediate answers. Today on the show, we talk with Khalid Alam, Founder and CEO of Stemloop, a privately-held company that is currently focused on developing cell-free biosensors to solve challenges in biomanufacturing, environmental monitoring, and human health. Tuning in, you’ll learn more about Khalid’s career, how he became interested in biochemistry and biotech, and how Stemloop’s cell-free biosensors will monitor and fortify water supplies around the world. We discuss how the biotech space has evolved over the past few decades, why doing projects at scale is so beneficial, and how the cost of DNA sequencing has plummeted in recent years. Khalid also delves into the crisis that the US is currently experiencing with lead in their water supply, the challenges of solving this problem, and the rapid tests that Stemloop is building for household taps. Today’s episode offers an exciting look into the world of testing and is full of important insights on advancements in biotech. Tune in to hear it all!
Key Points from this Episode
- An overview of Khalid’s career journey in biotech and biochemistry.
- How Khalid defines synthetic biology.
- Advancements in the biotech space over the past few decades.
- The value of doing biotech projects at a massive scale.
- How high-scale parallelization caused DNA sequencing to become more affordable.
- Aptamers: what they are, how they work, and why they’re useful.
- A breakdown of the FASTAptameR 2.0 toolkit.
- Exciting developments related to fluorescence activating RNAs.
- Global issues around water quality and how synthetic biology can address it.
- The benefits and challenges of analytical testing.
- Why getting a test result quickly is imperative.
- How the COVID-19 pandemic introduced testing issues to a broader audience.
- An overview of a lateral flow test and why it’s so valuable.
- Advantages of a cell-free approach and the cell-free biosensors that Stemloop is developing.
- How these will monitor and fortify water supplies around the world.
- How Khalid has transformed computational ideas and adapted them to the physical space.
- The methods they used to winnow down the application space.
- How the US is dealing with lead in their drinking water; challenges and possible solutions.
- How to get involved with Stemloop.