Tag Archives: SPOTLIGHT

SPOTLIGHT ON INDUSTRY: Daniela Heeg, CHAIN Biotechnology Ltd


Daniela Heeg, Technical Product Manager, CHAIN Biotechnology Ltd

What is your background and current job role?

I obtained a PhD in Molecular Medical Microbiology from the University of Nottingham, where I undertook a project concerned with the spore formation and spore germination of the important human pathogen Clostridium difficile. Following this, I worked at the University of Nottingham as Postdoctoral researcher and in clinical diagnostics at a private company before joining CHAIN Biotechnology Ltd as Technical Product Manager. Here, I am responsible for the development and dissemination of our product range, including commercial tools such as the modular pMTL80000 vector series and the first therapeutic products in our pipeline.

What Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (IBBE) related project is currently being undertaken by your organisation?

Currently, we are using Clostridium spp. as chassis to secrete therapeutic substances for the treatment of inflammatory and infectious bowel diseases. We have produced our first genetically modified strain secreting therapeutic, CHN-1, in volumes to support early in vitro pre-clinical work. We are now investigating in scale-up of this and other strains to improve growth. We are also researching an inducible version of spore production.

What do you think the challenges related to this project are in the next 1-5 years?

As CHAIN identify novel therapeutic targets, methods of secretion for novel peptides in Clostridium will need to be developed. We currently have a collaboration with the University of Nottingham in this area. In addition, because we are using the spores of our strain in formulation, we cannot induce spore formation with any substance that would prevent us from using the resulting spores in human clinical trials and subsequently in medicine. Thus, we cannot induce using common systems such as antibiotic inducible system. We also have the need for a truly tight system, so any system that can be triggered by external natural substances is not ideal for our purpose.

How can other CBMNet members help you and your organisation with your research?

Other CBMNet members could help us with our research by suggesting and maybe testing systems in the scope of an interaction voucher or more substantial funding. Such projects could focus on identification or secretion of peptides from bacteria or induction of sporulation that would be acceptable for deliberate release of an organism.

SPOTLIGHT ON INDUSTRY: Keith Thomas, Brewlab Limited

Keith Thomas, Brewlab Limited

What is your background and current job role?

Brewlab is a leading provider of training and analysis services for the international brewing industry, based in purpose built premises on the banks of the river Wear in Sunderland. I am currently director of Brewlab Ltd, responsible for company developments and project management.  I am also a senior lecture in Microbiology at the University of Sunderland teaching undergraduate, MSc and PhD students in microbiology, biotechnology and food sciences.  My background in food and beverage production with specialisms in brewing, yeast physiology for food applications and developing novel raw materials.

What Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (IBBE) related project is currently being undertaken by your organisation?

We have three major projects currently ongoing:

  1. Developing uses for brewing by-products with a focus on bioremediation and reintroduction into food products.
  2. Assessment of historic barley varieties for application to contemporary brewing.
  3. Matching of yeast strains to beverage characteristics.

What do you think the challenges related to this project are in the next 1-5 years? 

  1. Molecular biology techniques to identify relevant microorganisms and genes which may assist bioremediation and food flavouring.
  2. Bulk scale trials.
  3. Compiling the range of flavours possible into a palatable beverage.

How can other CBMNet members help you and your organisation with your research?

Collaborations to provide specialist input.

You can contact Keith at keith@brewlab.co.uk

SPOTLIGHT ON INDUSTRY: Charles Bavington, GlycoMar

Charles Bavington, GlycoMar

What is your background and current job role?

I am the founder of GlycoMar and a biochemist with over 15 years experience in marine biotechnology. I graduated of the University of Edinburgh and then completed my PhD at the same university, studying proteoglycan metabolism in cartilage. This was followed by postdoctoral research at Dunstaffnage marine lab studying invertebrate glycans and cell adhesion. Subsequently I worked for Integrin Advanced Biosystems Ltd, a marine biotechnology and testing company, holding the positions of Operations Manager and Research & Development Manager. My commercial interests are in entrepeneurship and development of effective life science innovation business models. My scientific interest is in glycobiology and its role in cell-cell interactions.

What Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (IBBE) related project is currently being undertaken by your organisation?

GlycoMar is a biotechnology company discovering and developing products for the healthcare and personal care markets. The company, founded in 2005, has an established discovery platform technology based on glycobiology products, which generates valuable intellectual property. The company evaluates the functional properties of its novel glycobiology products to identify the best candidates for development and the best market application, which include pharmaceutical, consumer healthcare, cosmetic and nutraceutical.

GlycoMar is developing novel consumer healthcare products addressing inflammatory disorders such as eczema and rhinitis, and pharmaceutical products that address unmet clinical needs in the treatment of inflammatory diseases such as psoriasis, asthma, and inflammatory bowel disease. The company is developing cosmetic ingredients for the skincare market and nutraceutical ingredients for the supplements and functional food markets. Our development programme is being carried out both in house and with commercial partners.

GlycoMar seeks to develop its discoveries to generate value through out licensing. The value of GlycoMar’s technology has been demonstrated through early stage Licensing and Collaboration deals.

We have developed and marketed a novel polysaccharide product from the marine microalga Prasinococcus capsulatus. The product is used in cosmetic products, healthcare products, and is being developed as a sugar replacement for use in confectionary. We continue to develop new polysaccharides for healthcare application. We are working on microalgae, cyanobacteria, and macroalgae products. Our covers all aspects of discovery and development of novel polysaccharides.

What do you think the challenges related to this project are in the next 1-5 years?

The biggest challenges we face are associated with product yield and production scale-up.

How can other CBMNet members help you and your organisation with your research?

Increase yield by manipulation of transport processes involved in growth of photosynthetic organisms and production of polysaccharide products.

You can contact Charles at Charlie@glycomar.com.

SPOTLIGHT ON INDUSTRY: Henrik Hagemann, CustoMem

Henrik Hagemann, CustoMem

What is your background and current job role?

My background is a clash of technical and enterprise, coming with an Imperial College London Biomedical Engineering background (1st class MEng 2015, awarded the only Imperial outstanding achievement medal out of 2200 graduates) where I focused on synthetic biology and biomaterials.

My research focused on synthetic biology tools, as I contributed to a genetic toolkit for biofuels production in thermophilic bacteria (Geobacillus, ACS synbio 2016). As part of Imperial College’s iGEM team in 2014, I co-developed a genetic toolkit for engineering control of bacterial cellulose production in engineered cells (Florea, Hagemann et al PNAS 2016 http://www.pnas.org/content/113/24/E3431). This took me deep into the area of crossing biological membranes (CBM), as the bacterial cellulose fibres are made inside cells and excreted across the cell membrane.

As part of CustoMem, we’re commercialising cellulose based bioadsorbents as a granular water purification product removing contaminants existing biological & chemical processes cannot degrade in industrial water treatment. The granular product retrofits in existing Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) vessels, enables recovery & recycling of contaminants and operates with low energy. The granular product is produced by cell factories using the tools & know-how developed during our research.

My job role as CEO puts me in close contact with collaborators & potential customers around alignment of our tech development with their needs. I also troubleshoot the technical challenges, fundraise, and manage expectations within our team & externally to shareholders.

What Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (IBBE) related project is currently being undertaken by your organisation?

CustoMem is secreting polymers (cellulose) from genetically engineered cell factories, and as such we are currently focusing on 3 IBBE projects:

  • Using the genetic toolkit to further refine the granular product for our chosen contaminant removal
  • Genetic engineering of the cell factories to produce a granular material focused on removal of new contaminants combined with chemical processing of the granular product
  • Optimisation of the genetic pathways for production of granular product with an eye to customise the solution for our customers’ environment

The granular product is sterilised after secretion and production, so there are no living cells in the final product. The granular media is produced to medical grade standards, despite being used in industrial wastewater settings, as an assurance of the sterility of the granular product.

In the future we are looking into collaborating on a number of projects including biologically based recovery of the contaminants captured, remodifying the cell factories to use waste media feedstock, and developing alternative polymers that can be produced biologically with relevance to water treatment.

What do you think the challenges related to this project are in the next 1-5 years?

  • Scale up operation of the granular media in existing GAC hardware
  • Tech alignment with customer needs
  • Regulatory pathway for the products as they will be the first customisable bioadsorbents produced by engineered biology for water purification
  • Large scale recovery and recycling of the contaminants into high value products (elutriation)
  • Price competitiveness, thoroughly assessed at every stage. The key here is taking advantage of the patented biological production genetic toolkit. Currently price competitive with Granular Activated Carbon with a safety factor.
  • Market penetration of granular product
  • Building the infrastructure and supply net for shipping the granular product, regenerating the spent material, elutriation of contaminants and handling the relationship with supply chain network partners.
  • Relocating to larger scale processing labs in the UK
  • Managing large scale bulk material production site


How can other CBMNet members help you and your organisation with your research?

For CustoMem, CBMNet is a perfect match in terms of alignment with our tech. As such, CBMNet members can help by collaborating on one of the 3 research projects taking place in our organisation, engage in conversations about complimentary research projects to engage in or as exposure to relevant talent when it comes to recruiting new staff. We’re always hiring, and sometimes tailor roles specifically to a candidate.

There might also be opportunity to invite partners from CBMNet into an industrial research consortium for our current funding proposals for EU, and UK based funding schemes. With the great potential of IBBE and its major challenges when it comes to commercialisation, we’re always more than happy to help with advice about any of the steps required.

SPOTLIGHT ON INDUSTRY: Alexandros Chatgilialoglu, CEO, Remembrane Srl


Alexandros Chatgilialoglu, CEO, Remembrane Srl

What is your background and current job role?

In 2010 I co-founded Remembrane srl, of which I am CEO and I am in charge of business development, strategy and sales. Remembrane focuses on membrane lipidomics of in-vitro cultures by developing customized in-vitro lipid supplementation in order to address major culturing issues or boost specific bioprocesses.

I obtained a PhD in Experimental Pathology at the University of Bologna, Italy, on membrane lipidomics of in-vitro cultures. I gained international experience at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada and in Silicon Valley, California, USA, where I was awarded the Certificate in Technology Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University through a Fulbright fellowship. I experienced the start-up life launch and operations at Lipinutragen S.r.l., a spin-off company of the National Research Council of Bologna, and at SiteOne Therapeutics Inc., a Stanford-based pharmaceutical company. I obtained a Master in Business Administration at Bologna Alma Business School in 2015.

What Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (IBBE) related project is currently being undertaken by your organisation?

Remembrane leads the cell culture technology a step foward, by envisaging the cell membrane network and its lipid composition as a cornerstone of cell physiology. Our current research work is aiming at ameliorating the production process and/or increase the yields of industrial bioproducts such as proteins, viruses, cells, APIs. With this purpose, we have developed customised lipid supplements, called Refeed, able to improve specific biological parameters of cells relevant to industrial bioprocesses.

Our customized lipid supplements are suitable for any in-vitro protocol and cell culture system, ranging from flasks to bioreactors. Targets of our lipid supplements can go from simple microbes such as bacteria and yeasts, to complex insect, plant and mammalian cells. Our supplements can be animal-free, fully synthetic, GMP-grade. Remembrane is fully flexible, with excellent experience and track record, and with a valuable internal database on multiple cell culture systems.

What do you think the challenges related to this project are in the next 1-5 years?

In the next few years Remembrane’s objective is to obtain multiple proof of concepts in different applications of industrial biotechnology. In particular, the supplementation of a multitude of different cell types for the production of a wide variety of relevant bioproducts will be the target of our efforts and collaborations. Moreover, another key challenge will be to standardise our supplement formulations, in order to be able to use them for a cluster of similar applications; this will facilitate the commercialisation of our Refeed products in many different fields of industrial biotechnology.

How can other CBMNet members help you and your organisation with your research?

We are constantly looking for collaborations that will help us in testing our technology on new bioproduction processes, such as new cell types and/or new bioproducts. Therefore, any CBMNet member who is interested in should feel free to contact us to explore new ideas for collaboration. We also welcome the opportunity to explore joint grant applications.

SPOTLIGHT ON INDUSTRY: Thierry de Lumley, Development Director, The Cosmo Company


Thierry de Lumley, Development Director, The Cosmo Company

What is your background and current job role?

My background is essentially technical, I graduated from Ecole Normale Supérieure de Chimie de Lille (MSc), a French engineering school and I received a PhD from the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Texas in Austin. I pursued a career in academia at the Center for Protein Engineering at the University of Cambridge, UK before joining the R&D department of Corning inc. I am currently the chief business development officer for The CoSMo Company, a fast growing FrenchTech start-up, based in Lyon, France and the Silicon Valley. CoSMo stands for complex systems modelling. The Company builds revolutionary software applications to help companies deal with their digital transformation with a focus on the design and operation of their complex interconnected systems.

Over the last years CoSMo has been developing game changing applications in the field of energy, pandemics and bioproduction based on the world first systemic modelling and simulation platform for industries. We strive to make sense out of the dramatic increase of complexity of our world combined with the explosion of Big Data.

What Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (IBBE) related project is currently being undertaken by your organisation?

CoSMo is involved with several projects in the field of biopharmaceuticals production with leading pharmaceutical companies.

For example CELLPAT a government funded project aims at managing and controlling bioproduction processes in the areas of cell culture and production of molecules and viral particles. This approach is part of the initiatives “Process Analytical Technology” and “Quality By Design” encouraged by Health authorities.  CELLPAT will allow continuous monitoring of a large number of parameters. Computer models, incorporating these physical and biochemical parameters and dynamic simulation of the process will result in an increase in the management and control of the online processes. The developed tools will have further applications in other areas such as diagnostics, fermentation, food, biofuel, purification and formulation.

Other project involves the simulation of various cell types production (mammalian and bacteria) in a wide range of cell culture media to optimise biomass production and target protein production. For these CoSMo has used dFBA approaches and couples them with a macroscopic approach of CFD to couple biology of the cells with the physical-chemistry of the reactor in the simulation.

What do you think the challenges related to this project are in the next 1-5 years?

One of the main challenges is to get a clear understanding of the metabolic pathways specifically on more confidential cell types that are the preferred choice of the industry but for which little knowledge is available in the literature. Another challenge is to develop an approach that can be as generic as possible to limit specific in-silico development on each new culture.

How can other CBMNet members help you and your organisation with your research?

The CoSMo Company is a software editor and rely on partners to co-develop generic application in various fields. CoSMo bring a strong background in complex systems modelling and a unique development platform, CBMNet coud provide the biological expertise, the mechanism description and the data needed to calibrate and valide the models.


SPOTLIGHT ON INDUSTRY: J.J. Fung, Co-Founder, Director Protein Sciences R&D, ProNovus Bioscience


Dr J.J. Fung, Co-Founder, Director Protein Sciences R&D, ProNovus Bioscience

What is your background and current job role?

My background is in membrane protein research, with a focus on ABC/SLC transporters and G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs). I obtained my Ph.D. in Molecular & Cellular Physiology from Stanford University and performed Postdoctoral work at the Stanford University School of Medicine. I have spent extensive time studying membrane protein structure and function using biophysical methods including FRET and crystallography, as well as characterizing ligand binding in support of drug discovery programs. I co-founded ProNovus Bioscience with a goal of providing solutions for difficult to study membrane proteins. Currently, I am in charge of generating new transporter and GPCR products for drug screening, as well as directing efforts for expressing and purifying membrane proteins for drug discovery campaigns in collaboration with industrial and academic groups.

What Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (IBBE) related project is currently being undertaken by your organisation?
A majority of the work we perform at ProNovus Bioscience is in line with several aims of IBBE. In particular, we focus on studying mechanisms by which substrates are transported into and out of cells (ABC and SLC transporters) as well as the effect of these transported substances on cell function via activation of GPCRs. For this, we have generated a variety of unique cell membrane-derived and artificial vesicles to model transport and signalling properties. Furthermore, our scientists have vast expertise (>20 years) in expressing and purifying various membrane proteins that are notoriously difficult to obtain. Our research group has established methods for vector construction, expression and purification from a variety of heterologous sources as well as expertise in assay development for functional characterization of membrane proteins. These methods and know-how at ProNovus Bioscience should be beneficial to various aspects of CBMNet Aims such as (1) improvement of influx/efflux of molecules across membranes (2) hijacking transporters for IBBE, to name a few.

What do you think the challenges related to this project are in the next 1-5 years?
Studying membrane proteins is always an issue: even for well-studied members of this super family. With the recent explosion of crystal structures for GPCRs, we are learning excellent methods for expression and purification for this class of proteins. However, the same cannot be said for membrane transporters, where such literature reports are not widely available. Research in this area is lacking and should hopefully improve in the coming years with better understanding of membrane protein expression, purification and stability. This will be an important challenge to overcome in order to exploit transporters for IBBE purposes.

How can other CBMNet members help you and your organisation with your research?
CBMNet has a strong network of groups interested in membrane transport. We are always looking for partners and collaborators that could use our expertise in membrane protein production and purification, and similarly, learning from members what novel applications there may be for membrane proteins that we work with or may be of interest in the future. CBMNet members interested in our expertise should contact us, we are open to collaborate on joint grant applications or other collaborations that could aid in the missions of CBMNet.

SPOTLIGHT ON INDUSTRY: Tosin Doherty, Senior Scientist, Industrial Biotechnolgy and Biorefining, CPI

tosin doherty CPIPrint

Tosin Doherty, Senior Scientist, Industrial Biotechnolgy and Biorefining, CPI

What is your background and current job role?

After graduating with a BSc in Biochemistry in Nigeria, I obtained a Masters in Biotechnology from UMIST. Following this I completed a PhD with Professor Gill Stephens at the University of Manchester, exploring and characterising whole-cell biocatalytic activity from a thermophilic culture collection (made available by Green Biologics Limited) for amine production.  On completing my PhD, I joined ReBio Technologies Limited (formerly TMO Renewables Limited) as a Research Scientist working on process development for the production of biofuels investigating cost effective pre-treatments, enzyme hydrolysis and fermentations of various lignocellulosic waste feedstocks.  I also led projects related to strain optimisation i.e., de-constituting and understanding the mode of action of pre-treatment associated inhibitors and toxic end products, and using classical mutagenesis tools and screens to develop and test wild type and engineered bacteria and yeast strains.

I joined CPI in 2014 as a Senior Scientist in the Industrial Biotechnology and Biorefining (IBB) platform.  My role in the lab is quite diverse: understanding and optimising biochemical processes of our clients and collaborators, working on topics within White Biotechnology through statistical methodologies. Another element of the job involves characterising these bioprocesses under predicted end-use stress conditions in scale-down to highlight de-risking studies required at the strain engineering stage as well as determining correlation patterns of operating and environmental parameters on cell physiology. Outside the lab, I work with the Business Development Team in the IBB unit in providing expert technical input and guidance to support the evaluation of commercial opportunities and the development of public/private projects and consortia.

What Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (IBBE) related project is currently being undertaken by your organisation?

The Industrial Biotechnology and Biorefining technology platform within CPI aims to bridge the gap between early stage concepts and scalable commercial processes related to IBBE. To this end, we have a number of on-going collaborative projects in which we are helping to de-risk process development and these include the :

  • Evaluation of quiescent cell technology (Q-Cells) under process relevant conditions by monitoring the production of 3-hydroxybutyrate, a chiral molecule which is a building block for biodegradable polymers (bioplastics),
  • Development of the production process for FeedKind™ protein, a new fish feed ingredient via gas fermentation,
  • Proof of concept evaluation of D-lactic acid production, for the manufacture of bio based products such as high performance bioplastics, by fermentation using second generation waste derived feedstocks,
  • Process development for the production of bio-based chemicals from lignin at lab scale suitable for industrial testing,
  • Feasibility study of succinic acid production from waste glycerol by fermentation

What do you think the challenges related to this project are in the next 1-5 years?

Due to the nature of CPI’s business, the varied number of IBBE-related projects we are involved in often means that we handle a diversity of microorganisms for development into commercial/ large scale processes.  In the scale-down evaluations of microbial product toxicity, one of the challenges has often been to determine the effectiveness of comparative growth screening studies of WT and intermediate strains when the final production strain(s) is still being developed.  These screening studies involve monitoring the growth of strains in the presence of the product or intermediate of interest under operating and environmental parameters.  We know this is a useful strategy for assessing microbial tolerance/ growth in the presence of feedstock inhibitors naturally present outside the cell; however it is still unclear whether this is effective for screening strains with the improved ability to export desired products produced within cells into the external environment.  Genome-wide and transcriptomics analyses are useful alternatives and complementing technologies, however some of the industrially relevant chasis/ strains evaluated have un-characterised membrane systems unlike those published in the literature (for E. coli or Pseudomonas spp) and the high costs often associated with techniques such as RNA sequencing often makes it non-viable in collaborative projects with a short life-span and limited funds.

 How can other CBMNet members help you and your organisation with your research?

Collaboratative R&D in understanding and elucidating mechanisms of microbial tolerance to biosynthesied chemicals and products in different industrially relevant host strains and development of ‘other’ phenotypic methods that can be used in screening for tolerance to target products.

SPOTLIGHT ON INDUSTRY: Joe Adams, Biocatalysis and Synthetic Chemistry Manager, GSK

joe adams download

Dr Joe Adams, Biocatalysis and Synthetic Chemistry Manager, GSK

What is your background and current job role?
I am based within GlaxoSmithKline as part of the R&D organisation, specifically the AC (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient Chemistry) department as a team manager supporting synthetic biochemistry. The team is focused on using biotechnology to develop improved (more sustainable, faster, shorter, cheaper) routes to small molecule manufacture. Much of our work is focused around biocatalysis but we also do some fermentations to natural products and are increasingly considering synthetic biology approaches.
My background has chemistry at its core with a PhD in organic chemistry followed by a couple of post docs with more of an emphasis on biocatalysis. I joined GSK in 1994 and have remained with the company ever since in various roles. In the last decade I have been much more involved in biotechnology as I sought to grow a team in the UK capable of taking advantage of the many advances in biology to improve our synthetic approaches. This team is now part of a global initiative, focused predominantly in the UK and US, and includes multiple different disciplines (eg biochemistry, bioinformatics, computational sciences, chemistry, enzymology, enzyme engineering, fermentation, molecular biology…..) from different departments within the organisation.

What Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (IBBE) related project is currently being undertaken by your organisation?
We undertake a large number of different IBBE related projects. GSKs largest volume drug is the antibiotic amoxicillin with annual manufacturing volume approaching 3000 tonnes. Most of our projects are much smaller than this and would typically involved using a well developed class of enzymes (eg ketoreductases or transaminases) in one stage of a chemical process. We have had success with many different classes of enzymes such as enoate reductases, epoxide hydrolases and monooxygenases – none of which is particularly well developed today. To cater for the varied nature of the projects, and to develop new tools for the future, means we have adopted an open innovation approach to our R&D and have many partners both in industry and academia. Our largest single collaboration would be with Codexis to bring their enzyme evolution technology into GSK and apply it to our projects. We have many links through to academia in the UK from simple CASE awards to large multi-partner collaborations (eg CoEBio3, IBioIC, different NIBBS or the Innovative Medicines Initiative collaboration CHEM21).

What do you think the challenges related to this project are in the next 1-5 years?
There are multiple challenges!
1. More classes of different, developed enzyme panels across a greater range of substrate chemical space so that promising hits can be quickly identified.
2. Improved (automated?) approaches for the screening of enzymes against the desired transformation.
3. Even with a comprehensive set of tools to enable enzyme evolution it still typically takes months to go from a hit to get the desired protein with the desired properties (activity, stability, stereoselectivity etc) suitable for full manufacture. This is often not a good fit for project timelines. It’s a commitment. Ideally we would wish for this process to be much faster, more of an experiment.
4. More productive processes for enzyme production. Greater expression levels, higher ODs, improved production strains, simpler downstream processing.
5. More productive ways to use biocatalysts (eg continuous / flow approaches, membrane technologies).
6. Improved methods (in silico, in vitro and in vivo) for the application of synthetic biology to develop new ‘cell factory’ approaches, using human-designed biochemical pathways, to starting materials, intermediates or APIs at concentrations that could be adopted by industry.

How can other CBMNet members help you and your organisation with your research?
As a global pharma company GSK have a broad range of projects and subsequently a wide interest in new methodologies or the novel application of older methodologies. We are constantly seeking better ways to conduct our R&D and networking across partners with aligned interests from both academia and industry is a key component of this.

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