CBMNet helps Teesside University spin-out researches medical potential of plants polluted by exhaust fumes

CBMNet helps Teesside University spin-out researches medical potential of plants polluted by exhaust fumes

An innovative Teesside company has launched a research project to investigate whether plants and greenery on roadside verges that have been subjected to air pollution from exhaust fumes could provide crucial chemicals that could be recycled for use in medical applications.

TeeGene Biotech, which is based at the Wilton Centre near Redcar, is investigating the possibility that they may contain platinum group metals that could aid the development of anticancer drugs and biomedical devices like pacemakers.

Working with York University, the Teesside University spin-out will first undertake research to determine how such platinum deposits could be extracted.

The aim is then to work with Highways Agency, who will provide plants collected by their gardening teams from roadsides in Yorkshire.

The research, known as Plants as Nanoparticle Producers, is being funded through a Proof of Concept Grant from CBMNet (Crossing Biological Membranes network), which pools skills from academia and business to develop projects with the potential to overcome major challenges in industrial biotechnology and bioenergy.

Ultimately, industrial partner Johnson Matthey will work with TeeGene to commercialise the new technology.

Founder of the TeeGene Biotech, Dr Pattanathu Rahman, said: “This is an exciting project that utilises TeeGene’s expertise perfectly.

“The nano level platinum group metals that are at the heart of our research are rare materials that are used in many industrial applications, often in quantities too small to even be seen with a microscope.

“There is a growing demand for platinum to be used in medical applications just as there is increasing concern about the environmental impact of platinum deposits due to air pollution so this research is very timely.”

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