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Marine microbes creating green waves in industry
Date:8/7/2009

New technology designed to analyse large numbers of novel marine microbes could lead to more efficient and greener ways to manufacture new drugs for conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes, flu and other viruses, as well as improving the manufacture of other products such as agrochemicals.

Researchers at Heriot-Watt University and Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) in collaboration with Edinburgh based company Ingenza Ltd are searching for new enzymes for use as manufacturing tools in the pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries. The research project, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), uses biochemical techniques to identify potentially useful enzymes in microbes that are found in the sea.

This work brings important expertise from industry together with academic researchers. The value in this approach is to take specific knowledge and expertise in biochemistry and molecular biology, coupled with novel and diverse marine microbes, right through to high-yielding, scalable and economic manufacturing processes. These processes use enzyme catalysts from the marine microbes, which lead to greener and cleaner manufacturing methods.

Dr Robert Speight, from Ingenza Ltd, explained: "We are using biology in our chemical processes to come up with improved manufacturing routes. We are taking advantage of the natural diversity of marine organisms that has arisen through evolution in different environments and coupling that with high-tech screening systems. We are looking to find naturally occurring microbes that already have a built-in capacity to do the chemical reactions we want to perform in industry. There is every possibility of developing more efficient and sustainable manufacturing solutions - for pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals in particular - as a result of this search."

Microorganisms account for more than 95 per cent of ocean biomass but relativ
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Contact: Tracey Jewitt
press.office@bbsrc.ac.uk
44-179-341-4694
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Source:Eurekalert

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