Scientists get £4m to develop ‘designer bacteria’

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.”

 

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Glasgow scientists receive £4m to develop ‘designer bacteria’   Glasgow scientists receive £4m to develop ‘designer bacteria’   Glasgow scientists receive £4m to develop ‘designer bacteria’   Glasgow scientists receive £4m to develop ‘designer bacteria’

 

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Dundee University receives £12 million funding for its new biomedical centre

Dundee University receives £12 million funding for its new biomedical centreThe BBC has reported that Dundee University has been awarded nearly £12m towards the completion of a centre dedicated to translating research into cures for diseases.

The new centre is the Centre for Translational and Interdisciplinary Research (CITR) which aims to reduce the costs of bringing safe new drugs to market.

This extra funding will pay for the completion of a new centre and add 180 research jobs to the 1000-plus scientists, students and support staff already employed in the college of life sciences. It is estimated that the new CITR project will cost £38 million.

Professor Pete Downes, the university’s principal and vice-chancellor, said “It will help create world-class capability and infrastructure for interdisciplinary work bringing together basic science, drug discovery, health informatics and mathematics.  This is also, of course, a very notable boost to economic development of the life sciences sector within Scotland.”

 

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Recycle, Whisky leftovers to provide fuel for cars

The BBC has reported that Tullibardine Distillery in Perthshire has teamed up with Celtic Renewables, to recycle Whisky leftovers from the Scottish distillery to provide fuel for cars.

Tullibardine Distillery will provide the leftovers, including draff and pot ales, which will then be fed on by bacteria to produce butanol, a fuel that can be used to run vehicles.

Napier University’s Biofuel Research Centre, (Celtic Renewables is a spin off company from the University) has already shown that the right bacteria can feed on those by-products to produce butanol – a direct replacement for vehicle fuel.

Now Celtic Renewables, and independent malt whisky producer Tullibardine have signed a memorandum of understanding.  Together they will apply the process to thousands of tonnes of the distillery’s leftovers.

The project is being supported by a grant from the Scottish government’s Zero Waste Scotland initiative.

Celtic Renewables said it eventually aimed to build a processing plant in Scotland, with the hope of building an industry that could be worth £60m a year.

 

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4 renewable energy firms in Scotland enter £10 Million energy Saltire challenge

The BBC has reported that two tidal energy and two wave power developers have entered into the race for Scotland’s £10 million Saltire Prize set by government ministers

The Saltire Prize is the largest renewables innovation of its kind. The aim of the competition is to encourage the development of wave and tidal energy devices in Scottish waters. The challenge is for each company to attempt to produce the most electricity over a two-year period, using only the power of the sea.

The four companies are: ScottishPower Renewables, Aquamarine Power, Pelamis Wave Power and MeyGen

Aquamarine Power chief executive, Martin McAdam, said the prize would act as a “global catalyst… bringing together the best brains and financial muscle to crack one of the great challenges of our age”.

 

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Scotland attracts renewable energy investment

Scottish Development International has reported that Scotland’s growing reputation for the development of pioneering wind, wave and tidal renewable technologies is attracting many major global companies to establish bases in Scotland.

It has been reported that over the last 12 months international companies such as Gamesa, Mitsubishi Power Systems, Samsung Heavy Industries, ABB and Alstom have all announced plans to invest in Scotland to develop renewable technologies.

Gamesa, the Spanish-based international renewables manufacturer has established an R&D facility in Strathclyde, near Glasgow.  This year it announced that Port of Leith, Edinburgh would be the location for the company’s 150 million euro UK offshore wind manufacturing base.

Also the Japanese manufacturing giant Mitsubishi Power Systems plans to invest up to £100 million in Scotland to develop renewable energy research and is also considering creating a major offshore wind turbine manufacturing site.

 

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BiFab win a Premier Oil contract creating 350 jobs

The BBC has reported that Burntisland Fabrications (BiFab) has secured a £145 million North Sea oil and gas contract with Premier Oil which will bring around 350 jobs to the Fife area.

The contract involves BiFab constructing both a 3500 tonne topside module and 8000 tonne jacket for Premier Oil’s Solan development west of Shetland.  BiFab will create structures for the platform at its Methil, Burntisland and Arnish yards, as Premier Oil develops its Solan oil field, west of Shetland.

The Solan field is expected to produce about 40 million barrels of oil, with an estimated initial production rate of 24,000 barrels of oil per day from the fourth quarter of 2014.

The contract is due for completion in April 2014 and will create a total of 350 jobs, with around 40 being based at BiFab’s Arnish yard on the Isle of Lewis.

 

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Wood Group PSN create 150 Aberdeen jobs

The BBC has reported that the energy company Wood Group is creating 150 jobs at its Production Services Network (PSN) division in Aberdeen.

The company is setting up a dedicated project delivery arm to the business, which they hope will help it secure and deliver large-scale North Sea projects.

Earlier this year, it was awarded a £250m contract from Premier Oil to deliver services to the Balmoral support vessel, which provides services for six oil fields.  WGPSN has taken on more than 1,000 new employees in the UK this year and currently Its UK-based onshore and offshore workforce now stands at more than 8,300.

WGPSN estimates the oil and gas project market worldwide to be worth nearly £100bn a year – of which about 30% involves brownfield projects.

 

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Glasgow scientists use 3D printers to create drugs

As reported by the BBC, scientists at the University of Glasgow have used 3D printers to create organic compounds and inorganic clusters which could be used in drugs to treat cancer.

The £1,250 3D printing process involves the use of a robotically controlled syringe which then builds an object out of a gel-based “ink”. Chemicals and catalysts are them mixed into this.  Traditionally, chemists have put chemicals in glassware in order to create a reaction.

It is hoped that in the long term this 3D printing system  could be used to make customised medicines whereby a doctor could download pre-set recipes and even tailor the medicines to their patients individual needs.

The scientists at the University of Glasgow also predict that the technology will be used by major pharmaceutical companies within five years and by the public within 20 years.

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