The University of Manchester (UoM) and SYNBIOCHEM, have launched a series of SynBio initiatives around the development of high performance materials with wide ranging applications. The research harnesses expertise in SynBio, additive manufacturing, materials/polymer science and allied disciplines.

We are developing new and emerging opportunities that impact beyond the established areas of biomaterials research and involve materials from biology or inspired by biology (biomimetics). For instance, it is well known that proteins such as the drag-line of spider silk have a greater tensile strength than steel and protein sugar glue that holds limpets to rocks is stronger in water than any synthetic adhesive. Modern methods in SynBio can now provide new routes to bio-materials with novel properties.  We have a number of well funded projects that are applying our Design/Build/Test technology platforms towards new sustainable routes to synthetic biomaterials working closely with materials scientists at the University.

Starting with inexpensive feed stocks, novel pathways are being identified and engineered in bacterial hosts, allowing sustainable production of novel biomaterials with advanced properties.

Current projects funded through and with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), which is the UK’s leading government agency in applying science and technology (S&T) to the defence and security of the UK, EPSRC, Innovate UK, and the University of Manchester, include Synthetic Biology initiatives around high performance materials with potential civilian and military applications including SynBio pipelines for aramid fibres, spider silk and the generation of bio-processing routes to silicon carbides.

Key academic leads: Nigel Scrutton, Nick Turner, Eriko Takano, Jean-Loup Faulon, Rainer Breitling, Sam Hay, Jonny Blaker, Steve Yeates, Pablo Carbonell, Mark Corbett. Research staff: Jennifer Bain, Sheida Faraji, William Finnigan, Lucy Heap, Chantel Jensen and Paul Kelly.