£3.8M grant for CBMNet Director Dr Gavin Thomas

Lead by CBMNet Director Dr Gavin Thomas, the CBMNet Management Board have been successfully awarded an Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst Early Stage Translation grant worth £3.8M.

The project ‘DeTOX’ will investigate productive whole cell biocatalysis by engineering resistance to toxic products and substrates.

Product toxicity is a major problem for many IBBE processes involving production of small molecules by living cells. Toxicity causes yield restrictions & cell lysis, & frequently affects the commercial viability of biomanufacturing. Likewise, small molecules in lignocellulosic feedstocks inhibit bacterial fermentations & ultimately depress product yields. In this CBMNet NIBB-led bid, a team of scientists from four Universities apply their fundamental expertise in systems & synthetic biology & membrane function, to engineer increased resistance to small molecules in the industrially relevant bacteria, E. coli & solventogenic Clostridia. Our innovation is to translate BBSRC-funded research in microbial stress responses, membrane structure & membrane transporters, into the development & commercialisation of innovative applications in IBBE by our 5 commercial partners. A key project output will be a commercial chassis strain, DeTox, with generally increased chemical resistance.

This project is a direct output from and is led by the management board of the BBSRC Crossing Biological Membrane  NIBB, Gavin H. Thomas, Gill Stephens, David J. Kelly, Jeff Green & Susan Molyneux-Hodgson & industrial partners Preben Krabben (Green Biologics Ltd) & Graham Eastham (Lucite). Through initial board meetings, the need for this project was identified & prioritized by the industrial partners.

To provide the full range of expertise for this work we have recruited Kathryn Lilley , who runs the Centre for Proteomics at the University of Cambridge, Tony Larson , in the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products, York, an expert in lipidomics & Boyan Bonev, a biophysicist with NMR expertise, will investigate membrane structure & organization, to bring fundamentally new approaches to the IBBE area. We have identified three additional industrial collaborators namely Ian Archer (Ingenza), Ian Tebble (Rebio) & Jeremy Jentys (CPI) through CBMNet (which currently is the largest of all the BBSRC NIBBs with >600 members & 150 from industry). 

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