Novel Routes to Quality Products

A project led by GSK, one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies, committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer.

The Project

The project aims to use synthetic biology principles to develop a new biochemical route to an important starting material for antibiotics manufacture. This could replace existing chemical synthesis from petrochemical derived starting materials with an environmentally benign microbial fermentation process using sustainable feedstocks. Our work includes a significant biochemical reaction step that has yet to be exploited in the rapidly expanding fields of biocatalysis and metabolic engineering: if successful this would also provide a generic technology for “green chemistry” with wider application in the chemical industries. 

Industry Collaborators

GSK is one of the world’s leading research-basedpharmaceutical and healthcare companies, committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. Within GSK’s UK manufacturing and supply organisation, factories at Irvine and Worthing produce antibiotics and biocatalysts by microbial fermentation. The associated development laboratories, pilot plants and highly experienced staff provide an efficient path for scale-up and industrialisation of newly developed IB processes, with efficient links into GSK’s global expertise and infrastructure and a long track record of effective academic-industrial collaborations.

The Academic Partners

Gary Loake is Professor of Genetics and Genomics at the University of Edinburgh (UoE) and a Governing Board member of IBioIC. Dominic Campopiano is a Reader in Organic Chemistry at UoE, with interests at the biologychemistry interface and is a member of the IBioIC Scientific Advisory Board. Patrick Cai is a Chancellor’s Fellow at UoE with interests in Synthetic Genomics and the automation of Synthetic Biology. Collectively, this team has vast experience, complementary expertise and a proven research track record. 

Collaborative Benefit

Internal prioritisation of GSK’s limited development resources does not normally permit progression in house of relatively high risk, early stage proof-of-concept projects. Through collaboration with a world-class academic team with the appropriate skills and facilities such projects can be de-risked and taken through to the point where further development may be justified. From the academic perspective there is a clear pathway for translation of research into manufacturing industry in collaboration with established experts in IB process development and industrialisation.
“The Exemplar Programme has provided GSK with the opportunity to work on an exciting research area in collaboration with a highly experienced academic team that has potential to change the future manufacture processes of antibiotics.”

Ted Chapman, Biotechnology Business Manager, GSK




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