18 Juli 2012

Aquapharm and c-LEcta to drive forward discovery and commercialisation of marine-derived biocatalysts

Partners plan to capitalise identifying new enzymes of marine bacteria to be used as natural substitutes for synthetic catalysts

In a pioneering collaboration the leading Scottish biotechnology company Aquapharm and German industrial biotechnology firm c-LEcta are set to fast-track the discovery and commercialisation of a new wave of bio-catalysts. c-LEcta is skilled in the identification and engineering of enzymes and strains for optimized bio-catalytic industry processes, whilst Aquapharm has proven expertise in harnessing the commercial potential of its unique collection of marine bacteria and fungi.

Together the partners will strengthen and expand their ability to provide innovative solutions across many market areas including production of natural, sustainably produced food, beverage and personal care ingredients.
Synthetic catalysts are broadly used tools in industry to manufacture all kinds of products from consumer goods, including food ingredients and washing powder, to agricultural chemicals and pharmaceuticals. With a growing number of companies becoming driven by sustainability concerns there has been increased interest in replacing energy-intensive chemical processes that require synthetic catalysts with eco-friendly, naturally-derived alternatives.

Aquapharm and c-LEcta plan to capitalise on that demand by identifying new enzymes from Aquapharm’s collection of marine bacteria, which can be sustainably produced and used as natural substitutes for synthetic catalysts.

Jon Williams, VP Commercial, Aquapharm, said: “Bio-catalysts have the potential to far exceed the efficiency of synthetic catalysts, leading to reductions in not only environmental impact but also production costs. Of particular relevance to Aquapharm is manufacturers’ demand for biocatalysts from unusual or extreme environments where micro-organisms are exposed to unique selection pressures such as very high or very low temperatures or pressures, as it is believed that they could open up currently inaccessible applications.

“With our collection of more than 10,000 strains of marine bacteria – and our dynamic and complementary partner c-LEcta – we are now in a better position than ever to drive forward the discovery and development of novel products and bio-catalysts, and crucially, to fast-track them to market.”

Aquapharm’s initial research has already helped to validate the enzyme potential of its micro-organism collection by confirming the presence of novel industry-relevant bio-catalysts in small-scale academic and industrial collaborations. The partnership with c-LEcta represents a step-change in scale in which c-LEcta will convert up to 2,000 of Aquapharm’s marine bacterial strains into genomic libraries, and establish activity-based screening programmes to identify novel enzymes.

c-LEcta’s innovative tools for the development of these libraries, and its market-proven expertise in bio- catalyst identification and process implementation within industry partnerships, will be a crucial element for the successful commercial leverage of Aquapharm’s strains provided under this collaboration. “We consider Aquapharm’s strain portfolio a highly valuable asset and are dedicated to jointly paving its way to tomorrow’s world of bio-catalysis” says Dr. Mathias Bell, Senior Business Development Manager of c-LEcta.

“The enzymatic repertoires evolved and diversified by organisms in unusual habitats provide an excellent and broad resource to meet the growing expectations of our industry partners in innovative and bio-based industry process solutions.”

The collaboration is part-supported by a Eurostars grant.

About Aquapharm Biodiscovery Ltd.
Aquapharm is a leading marine biotechnology company pioneering the discovery, isolation and development of novel, marine-derived bioactives for application in a wide range of commercial sectors, including pharmaceuticals, functional ingredients and industrial biotechnology. The company is based at the European Centre for Marine Biotechnology in Oban.
Aquapharm has built a substantial and specialised collection of marine bacteria and fungi from a variety of diverse habitats. Through the application of its proprietary technologies to this collection, the company has been able to stimulate the production of novel, biologically active products with broad chemical diversity. Aquapharm’s technologies and intellectual property are also applicable to other types of micro-organism such as those that populate the human gut.

About c-LEcta GmbH
c-LEcta is a German biotechnology company specialized in developing and implementing sustainable and economic industrial processes based on customized enzymes and microbial production strains for industrial applications. c-LEcta employs its patented and proprietary technologies for the efficient discovery of new enzymes with unique properties from biodiversity and for the efficient optimization of tailor- made enzymes and microbial strains. c-LEcta’s know-how in microbiology and metabolic engineering allows efficient development of production strains for protein and small molecule products.
As industrial biotechnology partner, c-LEcta has track record proven experience to deliver innovative new products and scalable bio- catalytic processes to numerous partners in the pharmaceutical, chemical, food and feed industry. Streamlining of the processes from idea to product allows rapid identification of new enzyme and whole-cell bio-catalysts, and the implementation of highly innovative process solutions within very short timeframes.

Contact:
Ira Kiesewetter
Phone: +49 341 255 314 18
E-Mail: ira.kiesewetter@c-LEcta.de

Source: c-LEcta GmbH, press release, 2012-07-18.

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