Pembient, the startup that creates genetically identical animal parts in a lab, blew up after we first wrote about them. The founders have been inundated with requests, tweets and the startup was even a number one topic on several Reddit threads for a hot second since launching last month.
The popularity is most likely due to the startup’s noble goal to upend the illegal wildlife trade using biotechnology. Several rhino species are on the brink of extinction, thanks to poachers looking to make a buck on beliefs that the horns have healing powers. These wild creatures are killed for their horns while their bodies are left to waste.
However, Pembient can make cheaper parts and sell them to the market faster by fabricating lab versions of endangered animal parts such as rhino horns and elephant tusks using 3D printing and genetic sequencing technology.
Pembient does more than just make animal parts in a lab. It recently partnered with nonprofit New Harvest and the Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine (ISCRM) at the University of Washington, to start a crowd-funding campaign to sequence the entire genome of the black rhinoceros on Experiment.com.
The Western black rhino is now officially extinct and there are only a little more than 5,000 black rhinos left in the world, according to scientists. This genome sequencing project could one day bring back the species.
The campaign is getting closer to capacity but still needs more than $5,000 in donations to reach its goal. You can get involved by donating here.
Pembient is doing some really creative work overall and seems to have made an impression in the biotech field and beyond. I recently caught up with co-founder George Bonaci at his lab inside SOS Ventures IndieBio accelerator to find out what’s next.