Archive for Uncategorised – Page 2

Synthetic Biology UK 2017

27-28th November 2017, Manchester Conference Centre, UK. The SynBio UK conference aims to showcase UK Synthetic Biology research and to create a focal point for the community, embracing its diversity and fostering its growth and its engagement with society. Held in the vibrant city of Manchester, where scientists first split the atom, and next door to the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology which is home to SYNBIOCHEM, we will have some focus towards chemicals and industrial biotechnology at this year’s meeting.

Abstract submission and early bird registration deadline Friday 29th  September 2017.  All attendees, particularly researchers in the early stages of their career, are invited to submit a poster abstract for consideration as an oral communication.

C3 Bio-Technologies Ltd

A spin out company, C3 Bio-Technologies Ltd, was incorporated to utilise synthetic biology to facilitate the production of propane.  The company seeks to develop an economically-sustainable manufacturing process for full-scale bio-propane production and brings together two long-standing specialists from Biotechnology research, Professor Nigel Scrutton director of the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology and SYNBIOCHEM, and the LPG industry, Michael Smith  director of Pressure Tech Transport Services Ltd a specialist regional supplier of LPG. New website 

Research paper on the development of synthetic pathways for renewable biosynthesis of propane can be found here.

SpeedyGenes gene synthesis method

DNAbluecode2A new chapter in Methods Mol. Biol. (Currin et al, 2017. Vol 1472, 63-78) describes our SpeedyGenes method that allows the assembly of DNA sequences with fewer errors and its use to encode extensive, statistically designed sequence variation at any position in the sequence to generate diverse yet accurate variant libraries.  We also describe the integrated use of GeneGenie to design DNA and oligonucleotide sequences, followed by the procedure for assembling these accurately and efficiently using SpeedyGenes. These methods provide useful tools for synthetic biology and biotechnology where gene synthesis is utilised to assemble any desired DNA sequence, which can then be incorporated into novel parts and pathways.

Microbial cell factories for the production of high-value pharmaceuticals

colonies-blue-2A new H2020 funded project TOPCAPI, involving 8 academic and industry partners from 4 different countries (led by Prof. Takano) will exploit the natural fabrication power of actinomycetes as microbial cell factories to produce high-value pharmaceutical ingredients, in particular the starter compound for the semi-synthesis of a new topical anti-acne drug currently in Phase II clinical trials, and intermediates for the semi-synthetic production of medically important type II polyketide tetracyclines to be used against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections (MRSA). TOPCAPI will focus on the engineering of two bacterial host species: Streptomyces coelicolor and Streptomyces rimosus. These host species will be characterized using systems biology approaches, applying integrated data analysis to transcriptomics and metabolomics experiments, combined with predictive mathematical modelling to drive the rapid improvement of these microbial cell factories for industrial drug production using advanced metabolic and biosynthetic engineering approaches. At the same time, the project will establish an expanded toolbox for the engineering of actinomycete bacteria as production chassis for other high added value compounds.


Biosynthesis of semi-synthetic antibiotics

shutterstock_70250746-pillsA major new collaboration between members of SYNBIOCHEM and the John Innes Centre, funded by BBRSC/EPSRC and Innovate UK, will explore SynBio approaches for the total biosynthesis of semi-synthetic antibiotics. Natural products are molecules typically produced by plants and microorganisms that have been widely exploited for pharmaceutical and other applications, but their use as therapeutic agents often requires further multi-step synthetic (chemical) transformation to produce the final optimised drug molecule. The project aims to develop new enzymes, pathways and riboswitch biosensors which can be introduced into host microorganisms to produce optimised drug molecules in a single step, enabling cheaper greener routes to essential medicines.

Synthetic biology for high performance materials


In partnership with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), The University of Manchester (UoM) and SYNBIOCHEM, have launched a series of SynBio initiatives around the development of high performance materials with potential civilian and military applications. The research unites expertise in SynBio, additive manufacture, polymer science and allied disciplines and is focused on aramid fibres, multi-functional nanofibres, bioprocessing of agricultural waste and enzyme engineering for new materials. This work is complemented by additional projects funded through EPSRC/Innovate UK.

New Uk – Brazilian collaboration

Harnessing SynBio, metagenomics and bioprocessing to provide alternative routes to high value chemicals.

ligninLignin can be obtained as a by-product of cellulosic ethanol production, and is a potential source of renewable chemicals. Efficient valorisation of lignin is a major unsolved problem in the development of sustainable biorefineries. This 5 year project builds upon an existing BBSRC/FAPESP FAPPA partnership award, and brings together expertise in cellulosic ethanol production and in biocatalyst discovery (CTBE) with expertise in biocatalytic lignin valorisation (Warwick) and biocatalysis for high value chemicals production (Manchester, UCL).

Equipment recycling in Africa

Reynard AfricaReynard Spiess who provides Mass Spectrometry support to the SYNBIOCHEM Centre visited the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology near Nairobi in Kenya earlier this summer. He helped with the installation of Mass Spectrometry equipment donated from the University of Manchester and provided instrument training.


ESOF 2016

The SYNBIOCHEM Centre was involved in a number of activities throughout the EuroScience Open Forum which was held in Manchester in July. We joined forces with SYNENERGENE for a
science and reflection session on “Synthetic Biology and the new Bio-Industrial revolution”, ESOF Roswelcomed speakers from GSK, Synthace, BioBricks Foundation, SynBiCiTE and ThermoFisher in a panel discussion on “Synthetic Biology – the pathway to commercialisation” and hosted an Early Career Researcher event  in the MIB with participants from the Edinburgh, Nottingham and Bristol SynBio Research Centres and a short talk from Bento Bioworks on the pros and cons of creating a start up company. Perdita Barran also hosted a session “Mass Spectrometry for the masses” which included video clips provided from MS laboratories all around the world (

Additional ESOF activities included: MIB Open Lab events; a SYNBIOCHEM collaboration with the writer, performance poet, producer, and play-wright, Matt Panesh AKA “Monkey Poet” and Rainer Breitling, and outreach and engagement activities across the city.


Ion Mobility MS workshop China

Cunyu Yan Cunyu mass specswas invited to attend the ion mobility mass spectrometry workshop in Shanghai/Beijing, China from 26th to 29th of April. His talk “When ion mobility mass spectrometry meets synthetic biology” simply outlined two major new cutting-edge technologies that have arisen in the past ten years; highlighted the mass spectrometry application challenges of dealing with synthetic biology samples and raised potential solutions for this specific research area. He also visited the Interdisciplinary Research Centre of Biology and Chemistry (IRCBC), Chinese Academy of Sciences and headquarters of Agilent (China). Image: The Interdisciplinary Research Centre of Biology and Chemistry (IRCBC), Chinese Academy of Sciences (Shanghi, Pudong Campus).