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Tesla CEO Elon Musk is traveling to Germany to visit Giga Berlin and to discuss building RNA micro-factories for CureVac and possibly others.
Several hours ago it became known that Musk's plane flew to Europe. At that time, it was unknown where exactly he was going, but Musk clarified the whole situation. He tweeted that he wants to visit Germany for several purposes.
Musk plans to visit Giga Berlin. The progress on the construction site is progressing rapidly—with all the major units of Phase 1 having already taken form. It is still unclear where exactly battery production will be located, but perhaps we will be able to get this information in the near future.
The second very important purpose of the visit is to meet with the biopharmaceutical company CureVac. In early July, Musk confirmed that Tesla has been working with a leading clinical state biotechnology company in Germany. CureVac is developing an mRNA-based vaccine against the Covid-19 virus.
Back in 2019, Tesla filed a joint patent with CureVac 'Bioreactor for RNA in vitro transcription'. The patent describes a bioreactor for RNA in vitro transcription, which can automate the production of RNA. This joint invention should help CureVac significantly reduce RNA production time and improve its quality, which is incredibly important in the search for a vaccine against Covid-19.
That & Giga Berlin are why I’m headed to Germany this week. Conversations with Harvard epidemiology confirmed that a high-speed RNA printer has potential be helpful for vaccines & cures in many areas.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 30, 2020
"Tesla Germany designed & built the vaccine RNA printers for CureVac, but, subject to some CureVac IP, they could be made for other companies too."
A critical step in the production of RNA is the creation of a suitable DNA template, which on an industrial scale, is quite expensive. Production processes are time-consuming, costly, and require sufficient laboratory space and equipment. This is why automation is so important.
An advantage of an improved bioreactor may be that it could allow for repetitive use of DNA templates in various RNA production processes. In turn, this could reduce cost, as less starting material (that is, DNA template) would be used, and DNAse treatment altogether would be unnecessary or substantially minimized.
Moreover, an improved bioreactor may allow for the robust production of RNA with a higher purity profile (no residual DNAse, no residual DNA fragments in final RNA product). The advantages of an automated apparatus for RNA production would be more robust and reliable manufacturing (due to minimizing human error). And critically, given the urgency of the ongoing pandemic, a major benefit here would be faster RNA production.
© 2020, Eva Fox. All rights reserved.
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