This bio-hacking company is using Crypto City to test controversial gene therapies.


Follistatin is a glycoprotein encoded by the FST gene. To Minicircle, its most interesting property is to block the protein myostatin, which inhibits muscle growth. The missing myostatin means that muscle cells can multiply and expand without the usual biological tests. As a result, animals with a mutation in this gene—such as a “bully whip”—are loaded with cartoonishly bulging muscles. Folstatin gene therapy, in theory, offers a faster route to this muscle-building effect.

Researchers have tried to use this approach to treat neuromuscular diseases that involve weak or underdeveloped muscles, such as ALS and muscular dystrophy. Success has been limited: “Until now, nothing has worked as well in human clinical trials as it has in animal models,” says Scott Harper, principal investigator of the Gene Therapy Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio. Even so, minicircle’s work to sustain these efforts is not unusual.

Plans are based on established literature and an initiative in the region of a health crisis that aims to use follistatin gene therapy to improve muscle mass and overall well-being in healthy participants. Minicircle’s Mirror is an experimental ad therapy as an age-reversing, muscle-soothing elixir – little supported by existing data.

“Follistatin gene therapy increases muscle mass in animals. It doubles bone density and halves body fat, the cardiovascular system improves faster, the animals live longer and are healthier,” Davis said. In fact, his and his colleagues’ interim human trials with follistatin They served as the impetus for starting Minickel: “We saw some very interesting effects,” he says.

But Harper says he hasn’t heard anything related to Minkel’s more outlandish claims that follistatin gene therapy can reduce chronic inflammation and body fat, boost DNA repair and promote aging. Robert Cotin, professor of microbiology and systems physiology at Massachusetts Medical School, echoes Harper’s skepticism: “If I wanted to make a fountain of youth drug, I wouldn’t think of follistatin.” ”

Experts have criticized the company’s trademark small circle technology. This approach involves a non-viral delivery method using a circular genetic construct – a “minicule” – to transfer genetic material into target cells.

But human studies using the mini-circle technique have so far failed to deliver DNA to the cell nucleus in a clinically relevant, safe and therapeutic way, says Stanford University genetics professor Mark Kay, one of its creators (although the method has had some success in vaccines). yall). From what he can find on Minicircle’s website, Kay doesn’t understand why startups succeed where others fail. “Where is the innovation in any of their technology?” he asks. “How is it different?”

Minicircle’s approach differs from the main focus of the broader field of gene therapy: the use of viral vector technology, an isolated virus that delivers the new genetic material to target cells. However, cotin is a non-viral vector approach used as a minicircle is much simpler and cheaper – and less likely to cause some adverse events, such as a fatal shock to the immune system. The company’s reciprocity claim appears to be based on the idea that, unlike viruses, minicells can be given more than once, he said. (Of course, whether Minnickel’s treatments will work at all—reverse or otherwise—has yet to be determined.)


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