Ballerup - Sophion recently introduced QPatchTM 16, a 16-channel automated patch clamp system. QPatch 16 has been designed to work with voltage-gated as well as ligand-gated ion channels. Anticipated screening capability of QPatch 16 is 250 to 1200 compounds per working day. There is a further scale-up of the technology in the pipeline for 2004, offering 96 parallel patch-clamp measurements and hence six times higher throughput compared with the QPatch 16.
Brussels – DG Research has published a report on the impact of -omics on personalised medicine. A pdf file can be downloaded at http://ec.europa.eu/research/health/pdf/summary-report-omics-for-personalised-medicine-work...
Brussels – DG Research has published a report on the impact of -omics on personalised medicine. A pdf file can be downloaded at http://ec.europa.eu/research/health/pdf/summary-report-omics-for-personalised-medicine-work shop_en.pdf
Benoît Battistelli began his five-year term as the new President of the European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich in July. He succeeded Alison Brimelow, who had led the EPO since July 2007. Battistelli has had an impressive...
Benoît Battistelli began his five-year term as the new President of the European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich in July. He succeeded Alison Brimelow, who had led the EPO since July 2007. Battistelli has had an impressive political carrer, starting at the French Ministry of Economic and Financial Affairs in 1978 and continuing since in various ministries and public bodies. He has worked as a trade commissioner at four French embassies, and also served as the Deputy Undersecretary for Industry and in other leading positions before becoming Chairman of the EPO’s Administrative Council in 2009.
Exactly two years ago, DNP Green Technology (www.dnpgreen.com) and Agro-industries Recherches et Développements (www.a-r-d.fr) officially announced that they were forming the joint venture Bioamber S.A.S (www.bioamber.com) with...
Exactly two years ago, DNP Green Technology (www.dnpgreen.com) and Agro-industries Recherches et Développements (www.a-r-d.fr) officially announced that they were forming the joint venture Bioamber S.A.S (www.bioamber.com) with the aim of commercialising technologies for producing succinic acid originating from vegetable sources. At that time, one of the venture’s major milestones was to build the first ever commercial bio-based succinic acid plant. In December of 2009, Bioamber successfully began production at its Pomacle-Bazancourt biorefinery located in the Champagne region of France. For its pioneering lead in the field and its efforts to commercialise bio-based succinic acid, the consultant firm Frost & Sullivan awarded Bioamber its Technology Innovation Award in 2009.
With 2,000 metric tons of annual capacity, the new plant is the first and only bio- succinic acid production plant in the world. Following in the footsteps of other successful ventures such as DuPont Tate and Lyle’s 1,3-PDO plant, the project provides even more proof that industrial biotechnologies can substantially modify the competitive landscape in the chemical industry. Bioamber’s goal was to make succinic acid widely available and competitive with other di-
acids such as maleic anhydride or adipic acid. And after four years of development, the company is getting there. Since 2007, Bioamber has used its 80m3 pilot plant to produce samples for its clients all over the world. Along with major applications in the production of materials based on di-acids – among them polyesters (PBS) and polyurethane – other applications include cosmetics, plasticisers or even de-icing substances. In a close relationship with its partner Basic Solutions, Bioamber has now developed a revolutionary succinate-based de-icer with a greener and far less corrosive profile than existing formulations. In addition to this de-icer development, Bioamber has sent samples to more than fifty companies all over the world to help these customers start their own development efforts and expand the market for succinic acid. All of those customers have validated the purity of Bioamber’s succinic acid.
Metabolically engineered E. coli
Based on an engineered E. Coli licensed from the US Department of Energy, Bioamber has developed a proprietary and innovative fermentation technology that delivers cost-effective bio-succinic acid. With three gene knock-outs, the strain initially developed at the US DOE offers very attractive yield and productivity coupled with very few by-products (such as acetic acid) which are separated during the fermentation process. An equally important aspect is that the bacteria sequesters carbon dioxide during the production process. A recent carbon-14 analysis demonstrated that 72% of the carbon comes from the glucose in the process, while approximately 28% comes from CO2. That study validates the theory that one glucose and two CO2 molecules are used to make two four-carbon succinic acid molecules. This confirmation was necessary to convince Bioamber’s licensees that our technology will generate carbon credits by fixing CO2, thereby improving the overall economics. Another benefit is the ability of the strain to grow on a variety of raw materials, including sucrose, glucose and glycerol. The E.Coli strain works well on all these carbohydrates. Consequently, Bioamber’s technology is not corn-dependent, and can be used in various geographical locations. In addition, the bacteria can easily switch from one source to another, depending on how costs evolve for the raw materials, at no additional expense. This flexibility provides a high degree of cost stability.
The goal is licensing
In the long term, Bioamber does not plan to build larger plants. Instead, our business model is to outlicense the technology to industrial partners entering this attractive market segment. The existing plant will be used to validate the technology and expand the market in order to limit the risk inherent in such an investment. Partners will want to keep their exposure to a minimum as they enter the market, and to avoid assuming both commercial and technical risks from the start. As the latter is covered by the Bioamber joint venture, licensees can concentrate their efforts on the business end. The company is currently in discussions with several multinationals in Europe, North America and Asia, and does not expect to have only one major production plant covering the entire market. Instead, the goal is to have several plants on each continent. Logistics costs are significant for a commodity chemical like succinic acid, and it is simply not cost-effective to produce in Europe and sell in Asia. At least mid-term, this problem has to be solved by having a production plant on each continent, and Bioamber is getting there by negotiating licenses with several well-known firms.
Three pillar process
Along with the development work done at its production plant, Bioamber also pursues various R&D programs in order to maintain its technological leadership and constantly improve its cost structure. Our licensees want to be reassured that we maintain forefront R&D activities in order to benefit from the best-in-class IP portfolio and know-how. It is also mandatory that Bioamber build barriers-to-entry. These R&D programmes cover the strain itself, as well the fermentation and downstream processes. A fermentation process is actually a three-pillar technology based on the strain itself, the fermentation process, and the downstream process. All three are equally important, and must be constantly improved. An excellent strain is nothing without an efficient downstream. In fact, a highly innovative downstream process can significantly improve overall performance. In terms of applications, the key word is 1,4-butanediol. There are several off-the-shelf hydrogenation technologies able to convert succinic acid into 1,4-butanediol, but few of them offer a selective and competitive route to this Holy Grail. The current market for the substance is estimated at 1.3 million tonnes per annum, and has a CAGR of 6%. Today we can offer the market an integrated technology that converts glucose into 1,4-butanediol. Some start-ups are developing technologies for in-cell production of this diol from sugar, but they will face major issues. First, the molecule dissolves the cell membrane, and is therefore toxic for the strain. Second, production yield will be much lower than that of succinic-based technologies. Finally, several distillation steps are necessary to extract the diol from the fermentation broth. We do not believe that it will be possible to develop a cost-effective in-cellular route to 1,4-butanediol. Obtaining a pure product will also consume huge amounts of energy, which means a non-green process.
Market for butanediol
The technology developments around bio-based succinic acid began at the US Department of Energy in the mid-1990s. In 2004, the widely publicised US DOE report “Top Value Added Chemicals from Biomass” ranked succinic acid as the most promising chemical platform for biotechnology process development. Five years later, Bioamber launched the first ever commercial production plant, and made bio-based succinic acid a commercial reality.
Parma – The European Food watchdog EFSA has approved three genetically modified (GM) maize varieties. According to the agency, the insect-resistant and herbicide-tolerant hybrids Bt11xGA21, MIR604xGA21 and Bt11xMIR604xGA21 of...
Parma – The European Food watchdog EFSA has approved three genetically modified (GM) maize varieties. According to the agency, the insect-resistant and herbicide-tolerant hybrids Bt11xGA21, MIR604xGA21 and Bt11xMIR604xGA21 of Swiss agro-giant Syngenta are as safe as their natural counterparts. All GM maize strains were approved for import into the EU but not for acreage. The decision for market approval lies at Member State level. As previously reported, the European Commission wants to accelerate market approval of GMOs by granting member states the right to prohibit GMO acreage on their territory independent from a positive outcome of the EFSA’s safety assessment. Meanwhile, biotech industry representatives told EuroBiotechNews that the draft ideas from the Commission to change co-existence rules or to limit acreage to certain regions may be not in line with trade rules of the World Trade Organisation.
Brussels – Former head of the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM) Thomas Hartung has accused the European Commission of having based its chemical testing regulation REACH (Registration, Evaluation,...
Brussels – Former head of the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM) Thomas Hartung has accused the European Commission of having based its chemical testing regulation REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restrictions of Chemicals) on false assumptions. In an interview with Nature, Hartung said: “It is my strong belief that some decisions on REACH would have been different in the light of these data.” In a previous Nature opinion article, Hartung estimated that systematic testing of chemicals for harmful effects could cost the lives of up to 54 million lab animals in the next 10 years – five times more than estimated by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). Those numbers were criticised by experts, as Hartung based his claims on the registration of 50,000 high volume chemicals, although just 5,000 of them are produced in the EU. After the Commission opened an inquiry into Hartung’s move to publish this assumption in Nature without conferring first with his Joint Research Center employer, he claimed in Nature that higher estimates on the number of animals needed for REACH were held back by the authorities before the legislation was adopted in December 2006. Instead of 2.1-3.9 million animals, he said estimates from 2006 suggest that up to 9 million lab animals would be needed for REACH testing, a fact which might have thrown its adoption into doubt. ECHA confirmed that this number is correct if the offspring of animals used in reproductive toxicity tests are also taken into consideration.
Parma – Two GMO varieties have received a green light from the European food watchdog EFSA. In April, the GMO panel of the Parma-based EU authority said that Monsanto's genetically modified maize strain Mon 863 and the hybrid of...
Parma – Two GMO varieties have received a green light from the European food watchdog EFSA. In April, the GMO panel of the Parma-based EU authority said that Monsanto's genetically modified maize strain Mon 863 and the hybrid of the two transgenic maize lines Mon 89034 and Mon 88017 are as safe as their unmodified parent crops.
Brussels – As spring finally rolls in, Brussels is awaiting two key publications: the strategy for growth and the first major FP7 funding call since the new Commission was formed.The strategy for growth has been delayed, and we...
Brussels – As spring finally rolls in, Brussels is awaiting two key publications: the strategy for growth and the first major FP7 funding call since the new Commission was formed. The strategy for growth has been delayed, and we are waiting with baited breath to see the official publication in the autumn. The new document aims to place a more practical framework for targeted support of growth in Europe than the Lisbon objectives. It recognises that the original targets did not create the ideal roadmap, and strives to be far more practical in its focus.
Getting down to brass tacks
In talking with DG Research recently, it became clear that the focus of its Cooperation funding programmes will align themselves significantly to the growth strategy, not only in terms of topic but also for the intended destinations of money. I refer, of course, to SMEs. Framework funding has always struggled to convince SMEs in the high-tech sectors to take advantage of its programmes. A combination of narrow topics, low success rates, slow processing and payment and complex proposal structures has dissuaded many firms from taking part – and who can blame them? A few SMEs have managed to make it a successful core of their funding strategies, but that takes dedication and a lot of time, something SMEs tend not to have. The new calls being published at the end of July are, I am reliably informed, far more targeted at SMEs across all biotech sectors. In the past, if a call did not specify the inclusion of SMEs, then you could be pretty sure that there would be limited or no SME inclusion. A significant proportion of the new calls will have the requirement for SME inclusion, with a fixed minimum percentage of budget allocated for their participation. This sounds good thus far, but it remains to be seen how well it translates into practical inclusion. If success rates remain low, and the whole process slow, SMEs will continue to view this funding as the domain of academics, and be passive participants rather than active leaders in projects. The good work in creating targeted and protected funding for Europe’s high-tech SMEs needs to be followed up by adaptation of the structure to make it faster, less complicated and more likely that SMEs will develop and lead projects. DG Research funding covers the interface of research into applied innovation, and it has been stated by any expert you care to ask – until they’re blue in the face, in fact – that SMEs are the engine of this innovation. It stands to reason that they are the engines behind innovation projects as well, and this is the overwhelming target for any funding body. We are watching and waiting for the end of July to see how well DG Research can deliver on its good intentions!
Brussels – “Biotech” EU Commissioner John Dalli has invited the agribiotech industry to rethink communication strategies on GMOs. At a meeting with the board of Croplife International, the global trade association of plant...
Brussels – “Biotech” EU Commissioner John Dalli has invited the agribiotech industry to rethink communication strategies on GMOs. At a meeting with the board of Croplife International, the global trade association of plant science companies, Dalli said the industry can do a “great deal” to ease the debate on GMOs in the EU by creating more transparency in its postmarketing surveillance and risk assessment communications. The commissioner said he would expect full cooperation in four areas. First, the complete phase-out of antibiotic resistance marker genes. Second, full transparency of GMO monitoring on health and environment effects, including immediate and complete submission of any relevant information to the Commission or EFSA. Dalli added that would mean limits on the confidentiality status of information that has genuine commercial value. Third, the Commissioner wants advantages and disadvantages of every new GMO that’s been filed for market authorisation to be fully explored at the risk assessment stage. Finally, he invited the industry to participate in the debate on how to speed up the GMO approval process while giving the right to EU member states to decide whether they want to grow GMOs or not. Dalli said he will promote a balanced approach that would give EU citizens peace of mind and at the same time assure growth opportunities.
Brussels – The 27 EU environment ministers have rejected the European Parliament’s plan to ban any marketing of food from cloned animals and their offspring and of food containing nanomaterials (see EuroBiotechNews 6/2009)....
Brussels – The 27 EU environment ministers have rejected the European Parliament’s plan to ban any marketing of food from cloned animals and their offspring and of food containing nanomaterials (see EuroBiotechNews 6/2009). With only two abstentions, the EU Council backed the Commission’s draft regulation on novel food that generally allows markteting of food from clones and “nano-processing”, provided it has been evaluated as safe by the EU food watchdog EFSA. Instead of national food safety assessment, the draft foresees the establishment of a centralised authorisation procedure for novel food along the lines of that for GMOs. The MEPs in May again called on the Commission to exclude food from clones from the regulation because cloning currently affects animal welfare, and leads to a significant number of animals with development defects. MEPs are expected to block the regulation in its second reading in July.
Brussels/Buenos Aires – The EU is moving to dismantle trade barriers to GMOs. Besides preparations to accelerate GMO market approvals significantly, the EU also signed a final settlement of the WTO dispute that Argentina brought...
Brussels/Buenos Aires – The EU is moving to dismantle trade barriers to GMOs. Besides preparations to accelerate GMO market approvals significantly, the EU also signed a final settlement of the WTO dispute that Argentina brought against the union in May 2003 regarding the market blockade for biotech products. The solution foresees the establishment of a bi-annual dialogue on agri-biotech issues like GMO import, regulatory issues, the impact of asynchronous GMO authorisations, and future EU and member state GMO policies. The EU and Argentina agreed to notify the World Trade Organisation (WTO) about the settlement, and have called it a mutually agreed solution. The WTO dispute that Canada brought against the EU on the same issue was settled last July. "I hope the United States, the only remaining WTO complainant in this dispute, will soon come to the same conclusion," said EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht. In May, the Commission is to discuss a solution to the problem of asynchronous market approval of GMOs. The plan is to allow contaminations of only up to 0.1% of non-EU-approved GMOs in food and feed imports through the implementation of a technical solution.
7th Berlin Conference on IP in Life Sciences: Big Data, Big Drugs
The health care industry faces significant transformation, driven by a boom in knowledge within biomedical sciences and breakthrough technologies such as gene sequencing. The management of "big data“ will change the understanding of diseases, development of drugs and treatment of patients. more