A new development in the European framework programs for research and innovation is catching attention: the lump sum pilot. First implementations are in progress already in Horizon 2020 and intensified for the next framework program Horizon Europe. What does it mean for the research community and which changes do we expect?
It is grey, waxy, smelly and very expensive: Ambra, the worlds rarest organic substance, could only be found in the digestive tract of sperm whales. The compound is highly sought after by the perfume industry due to its fragrance fixative properties and distinctive aroma. Biotechnologists found a new biosynthetic pathway to produce the precursor of Ambra, names Ambrein, exactly as it occurs in nature. The findings could revolutionize the perfume industry by making different products eco-friendly.
Plants, which are the primary source of food and animal feed, are not only affected by diseases during their growth but also following harvest and subsequent storage. Especially fungi that can efficiently degrade organic matter cause substantial losses of this valuable resource. Such losses can be prevented if adequate countermeasures are implemented. A recent study demonstrates how microbial markers can be used for the early detection of disease progression. Reliable biomarkers can be specifically targeted in the future to reduce food waste and to improve the storability of agricultural goods.
Enzymes are playing the first violin, the cell is hosting a perfectly coordinated orchestra and reserachers are the composers? Instead of sounds they produce fragrances? Our musical thought experiment demonstrates the complex production processes of biotechnology with aromatics as an example.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) emission is a massive problem for our climate; this is well-known. We urgently need measures to prevent earth from the big collapse. Where do we find them? Biotechnology offers some interesting solutions.
While currently most production processes for biopharmaceuticals are assessed by laboriuos and time-consuming off-line analytics, a new process enables the monitoring of such processes in real-time. Sensors combined with mathematical models deliver information on the quality and quantity of the product, as well as on content and profile impurities. This allows an instant monitoring of processes, making processes safer, faster, cheaper and more efficient.
The modern business world is using a new buzzword: “Open innovation”. What does it mean? How “open” do we need to be? What could be the benefit? And what does it look like in reality?
Scientists from the Department of Biotechnology at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) Vienna and the Austrian Centre of Industrial Biotechnology (acib) discovered a gene switch in yeast, that was able to change twelve genes – and thereby the metabolic process of yeast as a whole. This work explains evolutionary events that happened more than 120 million years ago. The results have recently been published in the scientific journal Nature Communications and have the potential to be used in the food and feed industry and for the production of bio fuels and new building blocks for bioplastics.
Have you ever thought about how drugs are manufactured? They are often produced by microorganisms which secret them into their environment: a soup of media, the target drug and waste that must be eliminated. In the pharmaceutical industry, people use chromatography columns to purify the medication. This process is used for more than a century for the separation of compounds. One may think that everything should be already known for such a well-established process. Yet, acib researchers found out recently that already the connecting tubes and valves affect the quality of the separation process and – in the end – product quality.
More efficiency, more quality, more process safety, less costs, less waste – these are the target specifications of each and every production process in chemical industry. It seems quite ambitious to meet all these requirements, but a new key word has entered the engineering world: process intensification!