SYNBIOCHEM - Bio-materials


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.

Advanced Materials from Biology

Starting with inexpensive feed stocks, novel pathways are being identified and engineered in bacterial hosts, allowing sustainable production of novel biomaterials with advanced properties. Modern methods in SynBio can now provide new routes to bio-materials with novel properties – Advanced Materials from Biology.

Inspired by Biology

We are developing new 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.

Advanced Materials Research and Innovation

Rapid discovery and engineering platform for manufacture of Advanced Materials from Biology. We have partnered with the Royce Institute for advanced materials research and innovation for a new high throughput platform for directed evolution and synthetic biology protocols.

Recent Publications

  • Robinson CJ, Carbonell P, Jervis AJ, Yan C, Hollywod KA, Dunstan MS, Currin A, Swainston N, Speiss R, Taylor S, Mulherin P, Parker S, Matthews NE, Malone KJ, Le Feuvre R, Shapira P, Barran P, Turner NJ, Micklefield J, Breitling R, Takano E, Scrutton NS. (2020). Rapid prototyping of microbial production strains for the biomanufacture of materials monomers. Metab. Eng.
  • Ahmed S, Leferink N, Scrutton N. (2019). Chemo-enzymatic Routes Towards the Synthesis of Bio-based Monomers and Polymers. Molecular Catalysis, 467: 95-110.
  • Roberts A, Finnigan W, Wolde-Michael E, Kelly P, Blaker J, Hay S, Breitling R, Takano E, Scrutton N. (2019). Synthetic biology for fibres, adhesives and active camouflage materials in protection and aerospace. MRS Commun. 9: 486-504.
  • Roberts A, Kelly P, Bain J, Morrison J, Wimpenny I, Barrow M, Woodward RT, Gresil M, Blanford CF, Hay S, Blaker J, Yeates S, Scrutton N. (2019). Graphene–aramid nanocomposite fibres via superacid co-processing. Chem. Commun. 55: 11703.

A number of projects are applying our Design/Build/Test technology platforms towards new sustainable routes to synthetic biomaterials working closely with materials scientists at the University.

Projects funded with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), 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.