IHS Chemical Week


CW's Weekly Innovation News Round-up, April 7

3:15 AM MDT | April 8, 2011 | By ALEX SCOTT

Arguably the most interesting technology development to emerge this week is the disclosure by privately owned start-up Proterro (Princeton, NJ) that it is developing a cyanobacteria - a photosynthetic microorganism named Protose - that can generate higher yields of sugar per acre than sugarcane and other conventional sources at a lower cost. The article features a chart showing that the technology has a significant price differential over sugarcane, which in countries such as Brazil is currently the most efficient way of making renewable chemicals. Proterro’s microorganisms don’t waste energy making fiber, there is no harvesting and no planting so it is highly capital efficient.


It’s been a busy week for technology collaborations. Among the most interesting is a tie up between Bayer Cropscience and Syngenta to engineer a soybean resistant to HPPD herbicides. Separately, Bayer Cropscience says it has opened a seed research lab in Singapore.


In another biotech tie up, enzymes tech firm Codexis (Redwood City, CA) is working with Alcoa, an aluminum manufacturing giant, to develop a process for capturing carbon emissions and neutralising alkaline waste from the aluminum manufacturing process.


The surge of investment into biomaterials synthesis continues: Clean energy technology company LanzaTech (Auckland, New Zealand) says it is partnering with LCY Chemical (Taipei) to produce biobased chemicals.


Sometimes your R&D partner may be so good you have to buy them. That was what Evolva (Reinach, Switzerland), a synthetic biology company decided. It has agreed to acquire its R&D partner Abunda Nutrition (San Francisco), a biotech firm involved in developing sweeteners and pharmaceuticals.


In an unlikely twist it emerged this week in a study by Lux Research that biomaterials firms are more likely to succeed if they use social networking systems.


Beyond Chemicalweek…


Drug-conjugated nanopolymers combined with mass spectrometric analysis can enable precise drug targeting to specific living cells. Serious side effects and better treatment could result. The study is published in Agnewandte Chemie International Edition. MolecularImaging.net


Science Daily: Scientists have developed a new technique for boosting the stability of enzymes, making them useful under a much broader range of conditions. They confined lysozyme and other enzymes inside carefully engineered nanoscale holes, or nanopores. Instead of denaturing, these embedded enzymes mostly retained their 3-D structure and exhibited a significant increase in activity.


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