Cobra and The University of Manchester Receive £217K Innovate UK / BBSRC Funding

Cobra Biologics and The University of Manchester have been awarded collaborative funding of £217K as one of only 23 projects which will share almost £20M from the Innovate UK / Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) supported Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst.

The joint project, PeriTune, is to develop a protein expression optimisation platform for the robust production of biologics. This platform will enable key bottlenecks and manufacturability challenges of recombinant proteins used in both biopharmaceutical medicines and industrial biotechnology to be addressed.

The platform will utilise the tuneable gene expression control technology RiboTite, developed at The University of Manchester, coupled with the expertise in bioprocessing scale up at Cobra Biologics. The RiboTite technology operates at the level of translation initiation and permits cellular-level tuneable control of gene expression. Here, uniquely, this capability will be used to match expression to the periplasmic secretion capabilities of E. coli production cells. At high levels of recombinant protein overexpression the secretion pathways can become overloaded, affecting product titres and cell viability. Clones developed through the optimisation platform at The University of Manchester will be validated, demonstrated at scale, and assessed for manufacturability within Cobra Biologics.

The PeriTune project will allow Cobra Biologics to investigate the use of the RiboTite technology in controlling levels of secreted protein production in E.coli, and also the manufacturing robustness of the system during fermentation scale up.

Dr Daniel Smith, CSO Cobra Biologics, said: “We are looking forward to collaborating closely with Dr Neil Dixon, his team at The University of Manchester, and their innovative RiboTite technology. This is a very exciting project for Cobra, as it has the potential to expand our current microbial production toolbox, providing alternative routes for controlling protein expression for a wide range of potential new protein-based therapeutics.”

Dr Neil Dixon, The University of Manchester, commented: “We are very pleased that this funding will enable us to collaborate with Cobra Biologics and support the on-going translation of our research into industry. We believe the technology platform could make a significant impact on issues involved in the production of biopharmaceutical medicines and other Industrial Biotechnology products, which in turn would reduce manufacturing costs and enable de-risking of early product development projects.”

About Innovate UK

Innovate UK is the new name for the Technology Strategy Board – the UK’s innovation agency. Taking a new idea to market is a challenge. Innovate UK funds, supports and connects innovative businesses through a unique mix of people and programmes to accelerate sustainable economic growth. For further information visit:

Catalysts are run jointly by Innovate UK and the Research Councils. A Catalyst is a form of research and development funding which focuses on a specific priority area and aims to help take projects from research to as close to commercial viability as possible. The Catalyst model supports projects in priority areas where the UK research base has a leading position and where there is clear commercial potential. Current Catalysts include: Biomedical Catalyst, Agri-tech Catalyst and the Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst. For more details please visit:

About the BBSRC

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond. Funded by Government, and with an annual budget of around £484M (2013-2014), we support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research, and the people we fund, is helping society to meet major challenges, such as food security, green energy and industries, and living healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. For further information visit:

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