As reported by Pharma Express, scientists at the University of Glasgow have received £4m from the UK Government to help them develop ‘designer bacteria’.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has distributed funds through the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council with the overall aim of making the UK a world leader in research and application of synthetic biology.
The cash boost will be invested to help scientists and researchers in the Institute of Molecular, System and Cell Biology to develop tools for the production of useful strains of micro-organisms. The Glasgow scientists will use a family of enzymes called recombinases which act as molecular ‘scissors and glue’ for DNA. These will allow the researchers to cut the strands at precisely defined positions and ‘paste’ a new sequence into the gap. The researchers will also use the technology to ‘teach’ cells to count and keep a record of the number they have counted up to in their DNA.
The £4m for the project, which is being led by Prof Stark and his colleagues Dr Sean Colloms and Dr Susan Rosser, will also fund researchers at Aberdeen, York and Nottingham Universities.
David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, said, “Synthetic biology could provide solutions to the global challenges we face and offers significant growth opportunities in a range of important sectors from health to energy. However, the commercialisation of basic science is largely untapped. This investment will help to ensure that academics and industry can realise its full potential.”