Research undertaken by Dr David Summers from the Department of Genetics will form the basis for a University of Cambridge / CPI [Centre for Process Innovation] collaboration to develop a novel microbial-based technology to improve the underlying process-economics of industrial fermentations. The project is part of Innovate UK’s production of commodity, platform and intermediate chemicals and materials industrial biotechnology challenge.
The project will develop an innovative technology which suspends unnecessary cell metabolism and growth, while maintaining the production of chemical products, a state known as quiescence. The advantage of quiescent cell technology (Q-Cells) is the abiity to maintain productivity whilst reducing negative results such as waste generation. The study will assess the techno-commercial potential of the technology to improve the competitiveness of industrial biotechnology to produce bulk chemicals. Specifically the project will evaluate the Q-Cell performance under process relevant conditions by monitoring the production of 3-hydroxybutyrate, a chiral molecule which is a building block for biodegradable polymers (bioplastics).
David Summers commented, “This collaborative venture with CPI provides an ideal opportunity to move quiescent cell technology out of the academic environment and meet the challenges of the market place. It is exciting to see that, once again, the results of a basic research programme in a University environment can potentially be translated into technology with real economic benefits”