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diseases, such as cancer and arthritis, could be maximised. “Many new treatments for diseases such as cancer rely on drugs that are protein based,” explained Dr Pilizota. “These proteins are manufactured from living cells that are modified to synthesise large quantities of desirable proteins for use in drug manufacture. The challenge exists not in producing the protein in the cell, but maximising the amount extracted from the cell during downstream processes. “The research project in partnership with Fujifilm looked to optimise cell conditions in order to maximise protein excretion and to prevent any unwanted leakage that could adversely affect yields.” Dr Ian Hodgson, Head of Molecular Biology, Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, said:“Working with Dr Pilizota has allowed us to gain some insight into the use of novel analytical methods and to gain a better understanding of part of our production process. As a direct result of this successful first project, we have continued and widened our partnership with Edinburgh on a range of projects, which we anticipate will lead to further improvements in our production processes.”

The building blocks of the future

The launch of the Edinburgh Genome Foundry in July 2016 reinforced the University’s position as one of the top-ranking universities globally in this flourishing area of science. The Foundry is yet another string to the bow of synthetic biology expertise in Edinburgh and adds to the already established community of more than 200 researchers sitting within SynthSys, the Centre for Synthetic and Systems Biology, and the UK Centre for Mammalian Synthetic Biology. The Edinburgh Genome Foundry is the UK’s only fully automated facility for synthetic DNA assembly and has the capability to design, build and test large sequences of DNA – the building blocks of life – using significant scale robotic processes. The facility works with a number of companies, most notably Thermo Fisher Scientific and Autodesk Inc., in order to translate this research knowledge into tangible outputs. Autodesk, a world-leading design company, is partnering with the Edinburgh Genome Foundry to develop innovative software for large-scale DNA design and assembly. The knowledge resulting from this partnership will help Autodesk explore this fast-growing

market, validate their new design software in a new (synthetic biology) domain and speed up the product development life cycle. Lorraine Kerr, Commercial Engagement Manager for Edinburgh Research & Innovation, said: “Synthetic biology enables us to build new and useful functions into cells – the workhorses of industrial biotechnology. The Edinburgh Genome Foundry has added further to the extensive research capabilities at the University, which means that partnering with Edinburgh is an attractive proposition for companies looking to innovate.” With the expertise and facilities to design, build, test and modify the building blocks of life, it is clear that the University of Edinburgh and its commercial partners will be constructing a bright future within this rapidly developing area of science.

If you are interested in partnering with the University of Edinburgh on projects like this, contact Lorraine Kerr, Commercial Engagement Manager, Edinburgh Research & Innovation: Lorraine.Kerr@ed.ac.uk

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Profile for Edinburgh Research & Innovation

Infinite magazine 2016  

Edinburgh Research & Innovation’s Infinite Magazine highlights some of the exciting industry engagement, innovation and enterprise activitie...

Infinite magazine 2016  

Edinburgh Research & Innovation’s Infinite Magazine highlights some of the exciting industry engagement, innovation and enterprise activitie...