The process of discovery and development of bioactive compounds requires constant extraction of metabolites produced by microbial species, first in a hetergenous mixture that will be assayed to reveal precise activities, and gradually in cleaner mixtures to finally isolate one positive compound. The bioprocess engineering hub is in charge of fine-tuning the best extraction conditions for each step, from massive extractions using the collection of bacterial species gathered by the biodiversity farming unit, to developing a robust process for separation, extraction, purification and formulation of a precise metabolite of interest, leading projects from a laboratory to a pilot and then an industrial scale.
Extract preparation for screening purposes
Screening biodiverse bacterial strains for new active compounds first requires preparing the extracts from these strains that will be used in the actual screening assays. Because there is no universal way to extract all the molecules produced by a given organism, the bioprocess engineering hub prepares several different extracts, for example using different solvents, that will together cover most of the activities of the organism.
Optimize extraction for compound dereplication
Once the activity testing hub has found an antimicrobial or other biological activity in a bacterial extract, its identification and characterization will require its extraction. In constant communication with the advanced analytics, synthetic biology, fermentation engineering and data science teams, the bioprocess engineering hub will gradually improve the extraction and isolation at a small scale of the compound responsible for the activity observed.
Downstream process development
The final step, after discovery and characterization of a bioactive compound, before moving on to industrial production is optimizing its extraction to obtain the targeted molecule with a robust and cost-efficient process. This requires adjusting parameters throughout the separation, extraction, purification and formulation steps for transfer to an industrial production setting, ensuring satisfactory extraction yields while preserving the physical and chemical properties of the product of interest.
- Provide extracts to the activity testing hub for screening purposes.
- Perform rough extractions to support and guide genetic engineering by the synthetic biology team.
- Perform extractions to support and guide the fermentation engineering process.