Algae technology development and licensing company, Algenuity, based in Stewartby, Bedfordshire, United Kingdom, has launched the MicroalgaE as Renewable Innovative green cell facTories (MERIT) project, a three-year ERA CoBioTech project financed under the Horizon 2020 programme.

The project, which will involve a multidisciplinary, international consortium, aims to develop novel targeted methods of biotechnological production for the sustainable synthesis of pharmaceutical products using sunlight and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere — from proof of concept through to pilot scale production and commercial applications.

This latest project builds on Algenuity’s success in the recent TriForC project — the development of a pipeline for the discovery, sustainable production and commercial use of triterpenes with new or superior biological properties — using its expertise in algal biotechnology to engineer innovative strains for the production of therapeutic diterpenes.

Algenuity will be conducting genetic engineering, process development and optimization, as well as actively engaging with commercial stakeholders with an interest in the application of these novel therapeutic diterpenes.

“Our role is to develop Algenuity’s proprietary strain of Chlorella vulgaris as a synthetic biology platform, and to engineer other algae in collaboration with academic partners, who will then use our suite of Algem photobioreactors as a platform for optimization of diterpene production using a statistical Design of Experiments approach”, said Chief Scientific Officer Alex Pudney.

“MERIT will also provide the opportunity to further enhance our new high throughput, 24 x 50 ml vessel photobioreactor — HT24 — allowing independent light control and online monitoring of cultures. It’s a really exciting project and we are pleased to be part of it,” he said.