News and Events in brief

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New Publications:

Full list and more detail can be found here:

A reductive aminase from Aspergillus oryza Aleku G, France S, Man H, Mangas-Sanchez J, Montgomery S, Sharma M, Leipold F, Hussain S, Grogan G & Turner NJ (2017). Nature Chemistry doi:10.1038/nchem.2782 Web link

Computing exponentially faster: implementing a non-deterministic universal Turing machine using DNA Currin A, Korovin K, Ababi M, Roper K, Kell DB, Day PJ, King RD. J. Roy Soc Interface DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2016.0990 The paper which focuses on the creation of a new DNA-based computing device, can be viewed at:

An oxidative N-demethylase reveals PAS transition from ubiquitous sensor to enzyme. Ortmayer M, Lafite P, Menon BR, Tralau T, Fisher K, Denkhaus L, Scrutton NS, Rgby SE, Munro AW, Hay S & Leys D. (2016). Nature, 539: 593-7. Web link

SpeedyGenes:  Exploiting an Improved Gene Synthesis Method for the Efficient Production of Synthetic Protein Libraries for Directed Evolution. Currin A, Swainston N, Day PJ, & Kell. (2017) Methods Mol. Biol. 1472: 63-78. Web link

Tracking the emergence of synthetic biology Shapira, P., Kwon, S. & Youtie, J. Scientometrics (2017). doi:10.1007/s11192-017-2452-5. Synthetic biology is an emerging domain that combines biological and engineering concepts and which has seen rapid growth in research, innovation, and policy interest in recent years. This paper contributes to efforts to delineate this emerging domain by presenting a newly constructed bibliometric definition of synthetic biology. The paper details the rapid growth and international spread of research in synthetic biology in recent years, demonstrates that diverse research disciplines are contributing to the multidisciplinary development of synthetic biology research, and visualizes this by profiling synthetic biology research on the map of science.  Weblink

SYNBIOCHEM Synthetic Biology Research Centre, Manchester – A UK foundry for fine and speciality chemicals production. Le Feuvre RA, Carbonell P, Currin A, Dunstan M, Fellows D, Jervis AJ, Rattray NJW, Robinson CJ, Swainston N, Vinaixa M, Williams A, Yan C, Barran P, Breitling R, Chen GG, Faulon JL, Goble C, Goodacre R, Kell DB, Micklefield J, Scrutton NS, Shapira P, Takano E, Turner NJ. (2016). Synthetic and Systems Biotechnology, 1: 271-5.

New funded collaborations

Using Synthetic Biology, Metagenomics, and Bioprocessing to provide alternative routes to high value chemicals a UK / Brazil collaboration. Lignin valorization in cellulosic ethanol plants: biocatalytic conversion via ferulic acid to high value chemicals. Summary: Lignin 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).

Synthetic biology for high performance materials: In partnership with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), University of Manchester (UoM) and the Synthetic Biology (SynBio) Research Centre 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.

Development of thoroughly optimised production chassis for advanced pharmaceutical ingredients: A 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.

RoadMAPS to societal mobilisation for the advancement of responsible industrial technologies: Is a new EU programme that aims to connect industrial players with actors from research and civil society organisations to discuss and implement roadmaps for the responsible development of technologies in 3 key fields including SynBio (Led by Randles).

iGEM Team 2016:

Congratulations to our iGEM team: After a year of hard work and a summer of intense labs, human practices and pioneering ensemble-modeming, the iGEM team were awarded a Gold medal at the Boston Jamboree, they also won the Best Model Prize and were nominated for the Education and Public Engagement Prize – A superb year! The interdisciplinary team comprised of biologists, physicists and social scientists from the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University, who  undertook a project aimed to help address problems associated with binge drinking and alcoholism, through the creation of a biological ethanol sensor. Read more


SynBioBeta 2017, San Francisco, Oct 3 to 5

iGEM, Boston, Nov 9 to 13

4-Day MBA “More Business Acumen” Building a SynBio-rich Biotech Business from Scratch. 19-23rd November 2017 Manchester, Run by SynBiCITE.

3rd UK SynBio meeting – 27-28th November 2017 Manchester – Web link