A joint team from Aston and Warwick universities and the University of Warwick have won nearly £2 million in funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
The money, an Engineering Biology Mission Award from UKRI’s Technology Missions Fund, will underwrite their work on engineering microbial cell factories to produce membrane proteins.
These are essential for drug screening for many leading medicines and vaccines that target membrane proteins. The proteins also have an application in sustainable chemicals production, acting as catalysts.
The £1.8 million UKRI investment will specifically fund work on identifying cellular production bottlenecks and cellular stresses, as well as the membrane environment surrounding the proteins. By doing so it will support the work of the new Aston Institute for Membrane Excellence, linking membrane protein biochemistry and polymer science.
Aston biosciences lecturer Dr Doug Browning said: “We are absolutely thrilled to receive an Engineering Biology Mission Award, with our colleagues at Warwick. This funding, in conjunction with our industrial partners, will enable us to design and construct new expression systems that will produce high-value membrane therapeutics, which can be used in the fight against many important medical diseases.”
Project lead and assistant professor at the University of Warwick School of Engineering, Dr Alexander Darlington, said that incorporating engineering concepts into cellular manufacturing platforms would enable cells to balance their own health against production of the team’s desired proteins and help achieve higher yields of important drug targets for future research.
“I am delighted that our project has been selected for funding and am looking forward to working with the wider research team across Warwick, Aston and our industrial partners,” said Darlington.