Tesla is using its manufacturing expertise to help find a cure for the virus.
When production was shut down during the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year, Tesla utilized its manufacturing facilities to build life-saving ventilators using parts from the Tesla Model 3. Now, Elon Musk has announced Tesla is building mobile "molecule printers" to help make the potential vaccine for the virus being developed by CureVac in Germany. Yes, it now looks like Tesla is entering the biotech industry.
"In principle, I think synthetic RNA (and DNA) has amazing potential," said Musk. "This basically makes the solution to many diseases a software problem." This was on Twitter in response to a user asking for his thoughts on an RNA vaccine, adding that "Tesla, as a side project, is building RNA microfactories for CureVac & possibly others" to help produce CureVac's COVID-19 shot candidate.
These "microfactories" will be built at Tesla Grohmann Automation in Germany, which develops automated manufacturing systems for batteries and fuel cells. The company was acquired by Tesla in 2016.
Founded in 2000, CureVac is developing portable "printers" for its mRNA-based vaccines, which Elon Musk refers to as "RNA microfactories," These printers are designed to be shipped remotely and create mRNA vaccine candidates against known pathogens including Lassa Fever, Yellow Fever, and Rabies, as well as new and unknown diseases. The vaccines use synthetic mRNA that can be manually inserted into cells to produce an immune response.
As part of the partnership, the two companies are developing a bioreactor combining Tesla Grohmann's automation technology and Tesla's manufacturing expertise with CureVac's mRNA coding and printing. Last month, CureVac secured a $300 million investment from the German government to help accelerate the development of the vaccine.
While Elon Musk only announced Tesla's partnership with CureVac this week, a patent application discovered by Electrek shows that Tesla has been working with CureVac on the revolutionary RNA bioreactor for over a year before the pandemic as a patent was filed by Tesla in June 2019 for an automated system for RNA manufacturing designed to reduce the amount of labor required for manufacturing RNA molecules.