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.
Fine organic particles in the atmosphere are more often solid glass beads than liquid oil droplets
21.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie
Study overturns seminal research about the developing nervous system
21.04.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...
Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.
A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy