Microbia has entered into a research collaboration with A*STAR's Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI) in Singapore to improve the efficiency of pharmaceutical production from actinomycete bacteria.
Under the terms of the agreement, BTI scientists will use proprietary profiling and informatic methods developed by Microbia's Precision Engineering business unit to construct a set of genetic tools designed to improve actinomycete-based pharmaceutical production systems.
The initial target of the Microbia-BTI collaboration is to more efficiently produce specific cytotoxic metabolites under development for use in cancer therapeutics. Longer term, the partners' objective is to identify genes that facilitate rational strain improvement for a broad spectrum of pharmaceutical products made by taxonomically related microbes.
Secondary metabolites produced by fermentation of actinomycetes are one of the most important sources of pharmaceuticals. The aggregate market for these products exceeds $11 billion (€9.2bn) and includes antibiotics and anti-tumour drugs, with a number of potentially valuable anticancer compounds currently undergoing clinical trials.
"By combining Microbia's powerful platform for engineering industrial microbes with our strong technology base in, and deep knowledge of, genomics and process development, we aim to create a new paradigm for more efficient and cost-effective production of pharmaceutical compounds from actinomycetes," said Miranda Yap, executive director of BTI.
Richard Bailey, vice president of Precision Engineering, said the collaboration would boost the speed and efficiency of actinomycete-based biomanufacturing processes by applying strategies similar to those that Microbia has already used in engineering recalcitrant industrial fungal strains.