In an interview from Motley Fool Live, recorded on April 8, Fool.com contributor Rachel Warren and Amyris (AMRS -18.33%) CEO John Melo discuss some of the specific ways that the biotechnology company's synthetic biology can be used to create products, including ones for the beauty industry, in a more sustainable process.
10 stocks we like better than Amyris
When our award-winning analyst team has a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.*
They just revealed what they believe are the ten best stocks for investors to buy right now... and Amyris wasn't one of them! That's right -- they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.
*Stock Advisor returns as of April 7, 2022
Rachel Warren: What is synthetic biology? How does Amyris's use of synthetic biology differ from the platforms of other traditional biotechs? What makes that the preferable platform to more traditional methods of consumer product development?
John Melo: Yeah, so starting with the basics, synthetic biology is the ability to engineer microorganisms, to turn them into little production factories. For a microorganism to be a production factory, it's typically in a fermentation process.
Think about synthetic biology as engineering an organism. We like to use yeast, but there are many other microorganisms you can use, and you program yeast by changing its genetic code. It takes in carbon from a natural or a plant source and converts that carbon into whatever chemistry you're programming it to make. That's synthetic biology in a nutshell.
What it's used for and what we are really passionate about, is actually remaking the world's chemistry in a more sustainable way. If you think about how chemistry is made today, most chemistry today is either crude oil and derived from crude oil or animal and plant-sourced.
Really, when you look at all three sources, none of the resources are really sustainable. There's only so much we can deplete, and as we're depleting natural resources, were typically damaging the planet in one way or another. Synthetic biology is a great way to remake the world's chemistry by actually taking low-cost, sustainable plant-based carbon, in our case from sugarcane, and then converting it into amazing chemistry that goes into the end markets.
Your question about, why would a market like beauty benefit from it? It's all about how good, how clean, and how pure the chemistry is. By doing it with biology and fermentation, we actually make clean, clear molecules that don't have a lot of the properties that cause oxidation in a product or that cause impurities that block the pores of skin and/or damage our water system when you rinse off.
So for the beauty industry, which is typically about stuff we put on our bodies and then stuff that we rinse off and goes into our water system, it is really important that we really are thoughtful about the purity of those products, the formulations that we use, the efficacy of those products, and then the harm that they do to our planet.
So synthetic biology is a great path to making better chemistry, better molecules, better formulations that end up cleaning up the beauty industry and making it more sustainable for our planet, and also because the ingredients are better, better for our skin, better for our bodies so that you have better-performing ingredients and you can use a lot less chemistry to give the consumer a lot better impact.