Impact

SYNBIOCHEM has had major scientific and translational success, as evidenced by our scientific peer reviewed paper/review publications (see http://synbiochem.co.uk/publications/), new patents and spin-out company (C3 Bio-Technologies Ltd). An early indication of how SYNBIOCHEM is driving high quality science that is being translated for commercial exploitation.

Industrial Collaborations and Commercialisation

  • A single-step synthetic biology/fermentative production route to the cholesterol lowering drug pravastatin. This research resulted from a partnership between SYNBIOCHEM investigators and DSM (Publication: McLean et al, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 112, 2847, 2015) which will facilitate industrial-scale statin drug production.
  • New route to biosynthetic menthols using synthetic biology. The partnership between GlaxoSmithKline and SYNBIOCHEM resulted in the international filing of a SYNBIOCHEM patent for menthol production (Publication: Toogood et al, ACS SynBio, 4, 1112, 2015).
  • Two major papers were published back to back in Nature on novel enzymes involved in fuels/alkene production. This research was the result of a partnership between SYNBIOCHEM investigators and Shell and led to the patenting of one of the component enzymes for fuels production (Publications: Payne et al Nature 522, 497, 2015; White et al, Nature, 522, 502, 2015).
  • New SynBio routes to gaseous biofuels (propane). Collaborative research with Imperial College provided a new route to renewable bio-propane which is subject to a new patent submission in the US, and forms the basis of a new spin out company C3 Bio-Technologies Ltd (inc. 2015), which is commercialising SynBio routes to bio-propane production (Publication: Menon et al, Biotech for Biofuels, 8, 61, 2015).
  • A novel cascade biocatalytic approach for the production of chiral amines was published in Science. This work resulted from an important partnership between SYNBIOCHEM investigators and industrial partner BASF and will enable new SynBio approaches to chemicals production using biocatalytic cascade reactions (Publication: Mutti et al, Science, 349, 1525, 2015).
  • Commercialisation of SYNBIOCHEM’s DESIGN methods: GeneGenie and SpeedyGenes. SpeedyGenes is a PCR-based method for the synthesis of diverse protein libraries that includes an error-correction procedure (Publications: Swainston et al, Nuc. Acid Res. 42, W395, 2014; Currin et al, Prot. Eng. Des. Sel. 27, 273, 2014) by one of our industry partners, GeneArt (ThermoFisher) as part of their commercial DNA synthesis platforms.

Policy

  • SYNBIOCHEM was represented by members Breitling and Takano on expert working groups (EU and USA) that provided  3 EU opinions on SynBio – the European Commission (EC) Scientific Committees issued a draft opioion on whether existing risk assessment methods are adequate for Synthetic Biology. These may have a substantial impact o future EU and global SynBio policy – A paper “Judging SynBio risks” was published in Science (Brietling et al, Science, 347, 107)
  • SYNBIOCHEM’s RRI team hosted a meeting ‘Synthetic biology: Reshaping the future?’ as part of Manchester Policy Week (2-6/11/15) that involved a range of stakeholders. Presentations across the globe (China, EU, S Africa, Russia and the USA) have explored SynBio science, innovation and the societal/ethical considerations, with media dissemination (e.g. Guardian 30/01/15 and Nesta’s blog).

Outreach

  • MIB Open Day 2015: The SYNBIOCHEM experimental team staged laboratory demonstrations, interactive stands and short talks for 180 A-level students (13/11/15). An educational MOOC focused on Industrial Biotechnology and SynBio is in development for delivery early in 2016.
  • Find out more about our outreach activities here.