Tag Archives: York

CBMNet scientists identify key step in production of Body Odour

CBMNet-funded scientists from the Universities of York and Oxford, along with industrial partner Unilever, have unravelled a key part of the molecular process by which armpit bacteria produce the most pungent component of the noxious smell we recognise as BO. The findings could result in more effective deodorants with targeted active ingredients, the researchers suggest. Read more

13 New CBMNet Projects Funded

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13 New CBMNet Projects Funded

We are pleased to announce that we have recently funded 13 new projects in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy. 

Proof-of-Concept Projects

  • Dr Neil Dixon, University of Manchester, CPI and Oxford Biotrans – Identification of Membrane Transporters of Lignin monomers
  • Professor David James, University of Sheffield and UCB Pharma – Engineering Exosome Production by CHO Cells
  • Professor Doug Kell, University of Manchester and Croda – A potent synthetic biology strategy for increasing transporter-mediated terpenoid efflux from E. coli

Business Interaction Vouchers

  • Dr Mark Shepherd, University of Kent and FujiFilm – Engineering E. coli for enhanced production of antibody fragments
  • Dr Mark Shepherd, University of Kent and FujiFilm – Lowering the disulphide load in the periplasm of E. coli cell factories
  • Dr Teuta Pilizota, University of Edinburgh and FujiFilm – Replacing osmotic downshocks with upshocks for periplasmic protein extraction

Vacation scholarships

  • Dr Frans Maathuis, University of York – The role of HMA and COPT proteins in trans membrane movement of palladium 
  • Professor Colin Robinson, University of Kent – An enhanced platform for translocation of biotherapeutics to the E. coli periplasm
  • Dr Alan Goddard, University of Lincoln – Modelling of multifactorial solvent stress on membranes
  • Dr Wuge Briscoe, University of Bristol – Bacterial mimicking liposomes
  • Dr Boyan Bonev, University of Nottingham – Membrane stability models in the presence of methacrylate esters
  • Dr Sam Miller, University of Aberdeen – Investigating the role of periplasmic and transmembrane domains of mechanosensitive channels in E.coli membrane integrity
  • Dr Claudio Avignone-Rossa, University of Surrey – Construction of glucose transporter mutants of Clostridium beijerinckii

You can view all our projects funded to date here and read our success stories here.

CBMNET secures major new industrial biotechnology funding

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The chemicals industry is a vital component of the world economy that is faced by the need to provide innovative and sustainable solutions to provide the resources required for a growing global population. One approach to a more sustainable chemicals industry is the use of microbial cell factories to produce key chemicals from sustainable feedstocks. However, a major barrier to commercial cell-factory-based chemical production is poor product yield. Often this is caused by intoxication of the cells resulting in sub-optimal performance. To address this problem, a £3 million research project (DeTox) to improve the sustainable production of chemicals and biofuels by microbes has been awarded by the Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst fund to a consortium of scientists led by the Sheffield-based Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Crossing Biological Membranes Network in Industrial Biotechnology (CBMNet). Professors Jeffrey Green and David Kelly along with Dr Susan Molyneux-Hodgson at the University of Sheffield are working with colleagues at the Universities of York, Nottingham and Cambridge and five companies (Green Biologics, ReBio, Lucite, CPI and Ingenza), to overcome poor product yields by focussing on how the properties of the bacterial cell membrane can be modified to create more robust cell factories.

DeTox is led by the CBMNet co-director Dr Gavin Thomas (University of York) and has benefited from funding from a CBMNet Business Interaction Voucher (BIV) which generated some of the preliminary data underpinning the DeTox project.

“The BIV was very successful from our point of view as we trialled a new method in our lab, which we took right through to the point where we generated novel data. This then went straight into a grant application.”

Dr Gavin Thomas

“The DeTox project is an exciting opportunity to improve the efficiency of cell-based chemical production that emerged from the creative discussions within the CBMNet management board and our industrial partners.”

Professor Jeffrey Green, CBMNet director

Importantly, the project includes a sociological study of collaborative research processes to develop a better understanding of ‘responsible innovation’.

“The approach of integrating sociological study into a technical scientific project is becoming more common, and it’s an approach that has already been shown to add enormous value to research. We’re very much looking forward to working alongside the scientists and engineers in this important research.”

Dr Molyneux-Hodgson, an expert in the social aspects of synthetic biology in the Department of Sociological Studies

“Green Biologics are looking forward to working with the academic community over the next five years. It is with great pleasure that the wider UK academic community has recognised Clostridia as an important industrial microbe and hopefully this will lead to a dynamic and vibrant community.”

Dr Preben Krabben, Head of Innovation at Green Biologics

DeTox is only one of the many achievements of CBMNet. So far it has funded seven Proof-of-Concept grants along with seven Vacation Scholarships (worth over £175,000) and five Business Interaction Vouchers (worth over £50,000). Many of these awards have focused on supporting students and early career researchers to ensure that the biotechnology expertise continues to grow.

“In our first year we have begun to establish an active and engaged community of industrialists and academics. We now need to build on these foundations and promote the importance of an appreciation of the impact that membrane biology can have on industrial biotechnology processes through our project funding streams and meetings.”

Professor Jeffrey Green

CBMNet is always seeking to further strengthen its links with industry so that the expert knowledge of the UK ‘membrane research’ community is translated into improved biotechnological processes. As the network continues to expand, the sum of its collective knowledge will be a significant resource for the UK biotechnology industry to draw upon.

CBMNet research targets efficient renewable chemical production

New research led by a biochemist from the University of Lincoln, UK, will aim to improve the production of an important renewable chemical used in many well-known products.

A major new collaboration has been awarded funding to explore ways of improving the production of n-butanol – a central building block for a number of household and industrial substances. It occurs naturally as a product of the fermentation of sugars and other carbohydrates and is used in a range of domestic and industrial products, predominantly in paints and coatings, but also in diverse areas such as perfumes, food ingredients, natural resins, and as an extractant in the manufacture of antibiotics and vitamins.

Dr Alan Goddard, from the University of Lincoln’s School of Life Sciences, will lead the project with Dr Preben Krabben from Green Biologics Ltd and Professor Ian Graham and Dr Tony Larson from the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products at the University of York.

The collaboration has been awarded a CBMNet (Crossing Biological Membranes Network) grant to explore more efficient and cost-effective ways of generating n-butanol from a variety of feedstocks – the term used to describe plant and algal materials in the production of renewable chemicals. In particular the purification step of n-butanol from the natural fermentation process can be expensive and the research aims to contribute towards improving this process.

Using expertise developed at the University of York, the researchers aim to identify the specific changes that occur during the creation of n-butanol. The changes that are identified will then be incorporated into a new model system, developed at the University of Lincoln, with a view to improving the production process and enhancing the yield.

Dr Goddard, Senior Lecturer in Lincoln’s School of Life Sciences, said: “The funding awarded by CBMNet will provide an exciting opportunity for our lab to continue industrially-relevant collaborations with Green Biologics Limited. The award will benefit the work of Green Biologics Limited as well as provide new opportunities for researchers here at Lincoln. I hope that our partnership will continue to develop based on the findings of this work.”

The project, called ‘Identifying and characterising protective lipid changes under solventogenic stress’, is funded through a CBMNet Proof of Concept Grant of just over £30,000. The CBMNet Proof of Concept Grants support new multi-disciplinary teams as they develop innovative solutions to overcome bottlenecks in the Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (IBBE) sector.

Read the original article here.

£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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