Synthetic Biology Overview

The recently published article Supporting Therapeutic Development with Synthetic Biology provides an overview of synthetic biology challenges and advances in biopharmaceutical development. One area of interest is the use of CRISPR techniques to genetically engineer chassis microorganisms to scale up production of drug targets. Having recently published on the use of CRISPR-Cas9 in S. coelicolor, Eriko Takano was interviewed to comment on the importance of the recent progress in the field.

Planobispora rosea publication and data release

Our multi-omics work on Planobispora rosea has recently been published in mSystems. P. rosea is the natural producer of the compound GE2270A. GE2270A is a potent thiopeptide antibiotic and is a precursor of two compounds currently being used in clinical studies for the treatment of acne and Clostridium difficle infection. This multi-omics study not only provided insights into the expression of GE2270A biosynthesis genes but also provided greater understanding of the biology of P. rosea. Original data from this work is publicly available via MORF (P. rosea data set). Our author video is also available here.

Manchester 2020 iGEM team – Gold medal and nomination for the “Best Supporting Entrepreneurship” award

Manchester 2020 iGEM team has won a Gold medal and was nominated for the “Best Supporting Entrepreneurship” award in this year’s iGEM (Virtual) Giant Jamboree.

iGEM is an annual international student competition in synthetic biology, providing a great interdisciplinary learning opportunity for our students from all faculties. This year’s Manchester iGEM team worked throughout the summer in very unusual circumstances. With support from the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology and the Synthetic Biology Research Centre, their project was aimed at producing an eco-friendly sunscreen, derived from hippopotamus sweat, in genetically engineered bacteria. They were probably the first iGEM team to successfully use computational retrosynthesis for their project, and with the help of the Manchester Business School they comprehensively explored the social and economic implications of their ideas using a Responsible Research and Innovation approach.

Click here to see the team’s presentation video.

Innovation Radar Prize 2020 Finalists

Explora’s development of the Doulix Assembly Wizard as part of the TOPCAPI project was shortlisted for the Innovation Radar Prize 2020. The Innovation Radar acknowledges promising innovations emerging from EC funded projects and there were three categories: ‘Tech for Society’, ‘Innovative Science’ and ‘Women-led innovations’. On 24th September, Davide De Lucrezia presented to the judging panel on behalf of Explora for the ‘Tech for Society’ category. Hydrogenious LOHC Technologies were announced as the category winners but Explora are honoured to have been shortlisted.

IMAX Discovery and Naicons enter a strategic collaboration to offer integrated R&D services from natural products for Multiple Applications

Milan (Italy) and Dortmund (Germany) – July 8th, 2020  IMAX Discovery GmbH, a leading research driven biotechnology company with expertise in the identification of novel, natural active ingredients, and Naicons Srl, a biotechnology company specialized in microbial products for drug discovery, announced today that they have entered into a strategic collaboration to provide integrated services for the identification and development of bioactive compounds from microbial origin for a variety of applications, including flavor & fragrance, cosmetics, agrichem, animal health and pharma. This partnership will create one of the largest worldwide collections of natural products from microbial origin. IMAX Discovery will provide functional assays and perform compound profiling and screening activities. Naicons will provide compound isolation and purification activities. The combination of the two companies’ platforms, each with a long-standing reputation and track record of scientific excellence and delivery for their partners, offers integrated solutions for the discovery, profiling, purification, characterization and scale-up of bioactive product candidates derived from microorganisms. For more information, please click here.

Public release of S. rimosus WT5260 genome

The TOPCAPI consortium has publicly released the genome sequence for Streptomyces rimosus WT5260: and Annotation for the 9.4Mb genome has been provided by using the automated NCBI Prokaryotic Genome Annotation Pipeline. Sequencing and annotation of  S. rimosus WT5260 has been an element of Work Package 1 concerning ‘Omics data collection’, which has involved several consortium partners.

CORDIS covers TOPCAPI and MoCLO wizard

During the summer, one of our partners (EXPLORA) released a new automated tool for DNA assembly called the MoCLO wizard. This new tool enables the rapid design and synthesis of CIDAR MoCLO constructs increasing the efficiency of synthetic biology research. After various announcements (Bio-IT World; synbiobeta, SCIAD Newswire), CORDIS have written an article covering the background and  goals of the TOPCAPI project as well as the release of the MoCLO wizard. To read the CORDIS article, please click here.

Programming Bacteria to do Amazing Things

Suhui Ye Huang from the University of Manchester attended the EMBO Practical Course “Synthetic Biology in Action: Programming Bacteria to Do Amazing Things” at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany. The course is directed to PhD students and post-doctoral researchers active in the areas of molecular microbiology, bacterial biotechnology, systems biology and bioengineering.

Su remarked, “the course was really well organised and included interesting and inspiring lectures from pre-eminent people in the synthetic biology field. I attended looking for inspiration to apply in my research in the TOPCAPI project, and I have to say that I found it”.

The course was intensely practical, focussed on hot topics in synthetic biology, to give participants the chance to get a better understanding of the techniques and trends that are currently taking place in many labs all over the world. Having attended the course, Su now has many ideas that she can apply to her Streptomyces research in TOPCAPI.

News of future EMBO practical courses can be found on the website here.

EU Joint action on antimicrobial resistance launched in Paris

A joint action on antimicrobial resistance and healthcare-associated infections (EU-JAMRAI), bringing together member states, international organisations, institutes and universities to tackle the threat launched on 13th  September, at the French Ministry of Health in Paris. The joint action will build on existing initiatives to reduce the burden of antimicrobial resistance. More than 44 partners and 22 stakeholders from all over Europe are involved.  The main objective is to join forces to build a European programme and to define common policies to fight AMR and control hospital-acquired infections, in line with ongoing EU and international policies.  Many national initiatives already exist. EU-JAMRAI will look for the best programmes and examine how cooperation at EU level can improve national AMR-related policies.

Read more

New Drugs for Bad Bugs

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria kill 25 000 people in the EU every year, and cost the economy €1.5 billion.

New Drugs 4 Bad Bugs (ND4BB) is a programme of the Innovative Medicines Initiative and represents an unprecedented partnership between industry, academia and biotech organisations to combat antibiotic resistance in Europe by tackling the scientific, regulatory, and business challenges that are hampering the development of new antibiotics. The programme currently comprises seven projects  that are finding solutions to the scientific, regulatory, and business challenges that are hampering the development of new antibiotics.

The new EU One Health Action Plan against Antimicrobial Resistance

In June 2017 the Commission adopted the new EU One Health Action Plan against antimicrobial resistance.

This new plan supports the EU and its Member States in delivering innovative, effective and sustainable responses to anti-microbial resistance (AMR); strategically reinforces the research agenda on AMR and enables the EU to actively promote global action and play a leading role in the fight against AMR. Its overarching goal is to preserve the possibility of effective treatment of infections in humans and animals. It provides a framework for continued, more extensive action to reduce the emergence and spread of AMR and to increase the development and availability of new effective antimicrobials inside and outside the EU.

Fact sheet available here.

FEMS 2017 7th Congress of European Microbiologists, Valencia, Spain

Professor Eriko Takano, Coordinator of the TOPCAPI project presented at the FEMS 2017 congress, that took place in Valencia from July 9th to 13th

Event website.

The Chemistry and Biology of Natural Products Symposium XI, Warwick, UK, 29th and 30th June 2017

Kamila Schmidt, Suhui Ye Huang and Emmanuele Severi (below) presented a poster at the 11th Chemistry and Biology of Natural Products Symposium that took place in Warwick on the 29th and 30th June 2017.

This annual symposium is aimed at early career researchers but also open to any academic or industrialists who have an interest in areas of natural product chemistry and biology.

Event website.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 720793