Researchers at Heriot-Watt University and Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) in collaboration with Edinburgh based company Ingenza Ltd are searching for new enzymes for use as manufacturing tools in the pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries.
The research project, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), uses biochemical techniques to identify potentially useful enzymes in microbes that are found in the sea.
This work brings important expertise from industry together with academic researchers. The value in this approach is to take specific knowledge and expertise in biochemistry and molecular biology, coupled with novel and diverse marine microbes, right through to high-yielding, scalable and economic manufacturing processes. These processes use enzyme catalysts from the marine microbes, which lead to greener and cleaner manufacturing methods.
Dr Robert Speight, from Ingenza Ltd, explained: "We are using biology in our chemical processes to come up with improved manufacturing routes. We are taking advantage of the natural diversity of marine organisms that has arisen through evolution in different environments and coupling that with high-tech screening systems. We are looking to find naturally occurring microbes that already have a built-in capacity to do the chemical reactions we want to perform in industry. There is every possibility of developing more efficient and sustainable manufacturing solutions - for pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals in particular - as a result of this search."
Microorganisms account for more than 95 per cent of ocean biomass but relatively little is really known about them and their potential applications. The research team's search is for industrially relevant enzymes which will reduce waste and increase productivity in the manufacture of drugs and agrochemicals. The enzymes they seek have the ability to convert compounds that would have previously been waste products in the manufacturing process, into the desired product, therefore increasing the efficiency of the process.
Professor Mark Keane, from Heriot-Watt University, said: "Our approach is to look for microbes which can promote the chemical reactions that we want to use in manufacturing. We then treat the microbes under conditions where they produce the key enzymes in higher yield, which we finally purify. The enzymes then undergo systematic testing to evaluate their activity, which enables us to pinpoint candidates that exhibit the best performance."
We are now identifying microbes with a type of enzyme called an amine oxidase. This could be key to cheaper, more efficient and sustainable process in the synthesis of valuable chemicals by both the pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries."
Commenting on the findings, BBSRC Chief Executive Professor Doug Kell, said: "Green and White biotechnologies are going to be an increasingly important part of the manufacturing landscape. Looking to biological systems that have been finely tuned by evolution to solve problems, rather than starting from scratch every time, might seem an obvious thing to do. It does however, in many cases, require the bringing together of particular niche expertise. The value of this collaboration is in the coincidence of knowledge and expertise from academia with the uniquely important business of synthesising a product on a large scale.
"What the outcomes of this project will offer us is the chance to have a significant impact on the sustainability of pharmaceutical and biochemicals production as we move from oil-based to photosynthesis-derived chemistry."
The research is featured in the summer issue of the new look Business, the BBSRC research highlights magazine.
IMAGES AVAILABLE ON REQUEST
ContactBBSRC Media Office
The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £450 million in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. BBSRC carries out its mission by funding internationally competitive research, providing training in the biosciences, fostering opportunities for knowledge transfer and innovation and promoting interaction with the public and other stakeholders on issues of scientific interest in universities, centres and institutes.
The Babraham Institute, Institute for Animal Health, Institute of Food Research, John Innes Centre and Rothamsted Research are Institutes of BBSRC. The Institutes conduct long-term, mission-oriented research using specialist facilities. They have strong interactions with industry, Government departments and other end-users of their research.
Heriot-Watt University has a special place as a leading institution in science, technology and business and excelling as Scotland's most international university. The University provides more graduates per year across the physical sciences, mathematics, engineering and in the built environment than any other Scottish university
About Plymouth Marine Laboratory
PML is an independent, impartial provider of scientific research, contract services and advice for the marine environment, with a focus on understanding how marine ecosystems function and reducing uncertainty about the complex processes and structures that sustain life in the seas and their role in the Earth system.
As one of the world's first truly multidisciplinary marine research centres, PML delivers highly innovative research and solutions for national and international marine and coastal programmes. The research at PML is timely and highly relevant to UK and international societal needs and its research, development and training programmes have at their core the mission to contribute to issues concerned with understanding global change and the health and sustainability of marine ecosystems.
Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth
09.12.2016 | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Plant-based substance boosts eyelash growth
09.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine