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BACELL HEALTH — Result In Brief

Project ID: 503468

Boosting the bacterial curriculum vitae

Bacteria can act as workhorses in the biotech industries. Research has delved into the cellular secrets of Bacillus subtilis (B.subtilis) and come up with even more molecular wizardry for the biopharmaceutical sector.
Boosting the bacterial curriculum vitae
Bacteria attract a lot of attention from the biopharmaceutical arena. Not only do they rank as the number one threat to health but they are able to produce antimicrobials, vaccines and biotherapeutics. The extensive range of available recombinant products is of particular interest to biotech companies.

Aiming to target both negative and positive characteristics of bacteria, the EU-funded 'Bacterial stress management relevant to infectious disease and biopharmaceuticals' (Bacell Health) project studied the stress responses of gram-positive bacteria.

Pathogenic bacteria are subject to host responses during infection, a classic example being the acid resistance of stomach bugs. In industrial settings such as bio-production, bacteria weather adverse conditions such as pH extremes, iron and nutrient stress. The ability of bacteria to detect and respond appropriately for their survival is a key element of their success and productivity.

Bacell Health focused on how individual regulatory pathways network to maintain a stable, constant condition and achieve cellular homeostasis. Detailed knowledge on cell cascades can be used to identify key targets for the development of anti-infectives as well as identify reasons for bottlenecks in production of biopharmaceuticals.

Most of the studies used the model bacterium B.subtilis, a gram-positive bacterium usually found in soil. The aim is to extend research to other Bacillus species and related genera such as Listeria and Staphylococcus species that are biomedically and commercially important.

Project researchers produced improved production strains as well as strategies. Genes for virulence were also identified which could act as drug targets for the possible production of antimicrobials. At least 3 patent applications arose from the research and more than 140 publications realised, more than 50 of these being directly related to the project investigation.

The project had the support of the Bacillus industrial platform (BACIP) composed of leaders in biotechnology production of biofuel, detergents, feed and pharmaceuticals. European research groups and industries are world leaders in Bacillus technology development. Participation of three leading European industrial partners reflects the importance of the research.

For the biopharmaceutical market, an important outcome in the face of microbial resistance is novel anti-infectives. Bacell Health reached a standard of research excellence that will help to keep Europe's competitive market position with stiff competition from the United States and far eastern countries.

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