The University of Manchester is at the forefront of a bio-industrial revolution.
Fossil fuels have been the primary energy source for society since the Industrial Revolution. They provide the raw material for the manufacture of many everyday products that we take for granted including pharmaceuticals, food and drink, materials, plastics and personal care.
But our dependency can't continue. The combined effect of fossil carbon depletion and climate change means we must find cleaner, more sustainable forms of energy. We need solutions that will help us respond to society’s grand challenges: an ever-increasing and ageing population, affordable health care, resource efficiency, food security, climate change and energy shortages.
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A bio-industrial revolution
Just as Manchester was at the heart of the first Industrial Revolution, The University of Manchester is now leading the way, both nationally and across Europe, towards a bio-industrial revolution. We’re at the forefront of a European industrial renaissance, creating next-generation chemicals for industrial and health care needs.
Using biological resources such as plants, algae, fungi, marine life and micro-organisms, industrial biotechnology, combined with the emerging science of synthetic biology, is changing how we manufacture chemicals and materials, and provides a source of renewable energy.
We’re channelling the full breadth of our expertise in chemicals, materials and energy to find the answers. In the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, the University has one of Europe’s leading industry-interfaced institutes, with world-leading capabilities in chemicals synthesis and manufacture.
Supported by a grant portfolio of more than £100 million, we partner with some of the world’s leading companies from across the chemistry, biotechnology and biopharmaceutical sectors – including GlaxoSmithKline, Shell, Unilever and Pfizer– to drive the creation of new, bio-based chemicals.
Solutions for 21st century industry
As the 21st century progresses and we move towards more bio-based economies, we need solutions for the manufacture of chemicals that are smarter, more predictable and more sustainable.
At The University of Manchester we’re advancing this agenda.
We have the capacity to deliver renewable and sustainable materials, biopharmaceuticals, chemicals and energy that will transform the UK and European industrial landscape.
Industrial biotechnology: Research breakthroughs
Developing synthetic, cost-effective renewable sources of energy.
Research that is enabling early diagnosis of life-changing diseases like Parkinson's.
Global challenges, Manchester solutions
Producing inexpensive pharmaceuticals
Hepatitis C is a major health problem affecting around 150 million people worldwide. Many infected people live in countries where access to modern expensive treatments is a major issue.
We have helped develop a new class of drugs that are highly effective in tackling hepatitis C, completely removing the virus from most patients. Efforts can now focus on making telaprevir – the leading medicine in this area – widely available and affordable. In collaboration with the Free University of Amsterdam, we devised an efficient synthesis of telaprevir that combines biocatalysis with multicomponent chemistry.
We are home to the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology: a leading European industry-interfaced biotechnology research institute with world-leading expertise in integrated biophysics and catalysis, and capabilities spanning all aspects of biological structure and determination.
Efficient production of pravastatin
Statins are a major breakthrough in health care: widely used drugs that decrease the risk of coronary heart disease and strokes by lowering cholesterol levels. To make them more widely available, we need to reduce production costs.
Industrial researchers at DSM and researchers from our Manchester Institute of Biotechnology (MIB) have devised a single-step fermentative method for the industrial production of pravastatin, replacing the previous costly dual-step fermentation and biotransformation process. This new biotechnologically advanced method forms the basis of a patented process for efficient production of this blockbuster drug.
We have 52 lead MIB investigators collaborating with many more colleagues across the University, while 30% of MIB’s research portfolio involves overseas partners.
Propane, a major component of liquefied petroleum gas, is the world’s third most widely used motor fuel and provides heat and energy for an estimated 14 million homes. Reducing its environmental impact is crucial in tackling global climate change.
Researchers from our Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, in collaboration with Imperial College London and the University of Turku, have created a synthetic pathway for biosynthesis of propane gas. This cutting-edge process has the potential to revolutionise the production of biofuel, avoiding the environmental issues associated with extracting fuel from non-renewable sources and drastically reducing the transport costs and carbon emissions associated with production.
Our multidisciplinary approach to industrial biotechnology is transforming the traditional chemical and chemical-related sector to a more sustainable and competitive one, which uses biological resources for the production and processing of chemicals, energy and materials.
Industrial biotechnology and bioenergy networks
Bringing together industry and academia to translate biotechnology discovery into business application.
The University of Manchester hosts four national networks in industrial biotechnology and bioenergy to boost interaction between academics and industry, promoting the translation of research into benefits for the UK. These networks help drive new ideas and harness the potential of biological resources for producing and processing materials, biopharmaceuticals, chemicals and energy.
We’re home to the BIOCATNET (network in biocatalyst discovery, development and scale up), BioProNET (network in bioprocessing), IB Carb (glycoscience tools for biotechnology and bioenergy) and NPRONET (natural products discovery and bioengineering network).
Improving chemicals production
Many flavours and fragrances are sourced from botanicals. However, some botanicals contain only minute levels of the target compound. Engineering bacterial strains that produce these compounds could significantly reduce the environmental impact of traditional chemical synthesis.
Hosted by the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, the Synthetic Biology Research Centre for Fine and Speciality Chemicals (SYNBIOCHEM) focuses early activity in three key chemical targets: alkaloids, flavonoids and terpenoids. These projects aim to accelerate the production and scale-up of these chemical targets, which are key to a wide range of sectors.
SYNBIOCHEM has had major scientific success that is being translated for commercial applications, as evidenced by 80 scientific peer-reviewed papers and review publications (in Science, Nature, Cell), new patents (plus an industry-sponsored patent with Shell) and a new spin-out company (C3 Bio-Technologies Ltd).
New hub to boost bio-tech in Greater Manchester
A new bio-tech facility, based at the University, is set to transform the bio-tech manufacturing process, driving clean growth and increasing commercial viability.
University signs up to help Manchester go zero carbon and plastic free
The University will work to remove avoidable single-use plastics from catering, labs and stationery by 2022 and play a major role in the city’s zero carbon by 2038 target.
Smell of skin could lead to early Parkinson's diagnosis
Scientists have found small molecules in sebum are responsible for a unique scent on Parkinson’s patients which could lead to the development of an early diagnosis test.
University entrepreneurs win at Innovator of the Year Awards
Two initiatives developed by Manchester-based entrepreneurs claimed Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council prizes at a national awards ceremony.
Multimillion-pound biotechnology research investment for Manchester
The University has been awarded ￡10 million to lead a UK-wide biomanufacturing research hub.
Faster genome evolution methods to transform yeast
Scientists have created a new way of speeding up the genome evolution of baker’s yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the same yeast we use for bread and beer production.
New deal could bring first treatment for rare terminal disorder in children
Manchester scientists believe a rare terminal disorder that affects children’s brains could be treated successfully for the first time.
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Research beacons breakthrough ebook
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Industrial Biotechnology MOOC
Find out more by taking our free MOOC (massive open online course) covering the key technologies underpinning biotechnology research.
Manchester Institute of Biotechnology
Learn more about the research undertaken by this leading centre.
Visit the MIB website
Faculty of Science and Engineering
We also have industrial biotechnology expertise in our Schools of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science.
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