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Novel biotechnological production process of itaconic acid

Country of Origin: Germany
Reference Number: TODE20161107001
Publication Date: 17 November 2016

Summary

A German university developed an innovative way to produce itaconic acid by using genes encoding of unicellular fungi which improves the production process remarkably. The university offers a license agreement as well as a technical cooperation agreement.

Description

Itaconic acid is one of the top bio-based chemical building blocks and thus a promising platform compound for the production of polymers, coatings, chemical compounds and biofuels. It is an important monomer for the synthesis of, e.g. poly-acrylates, rubber, colours, additives, adhesives, emulsifying agents, lipids, pharmaceuticals, herbicides and biodegradable polymers for the packaging industry.
A German university developed an innovative production process of itaconic acid. Currently, itaconic acid is commercially produced by microbial fermentation using filamentous fungi of the genus Aspergillus, such as A. terreus. This itaconic acid producer is well characterized, but has several disadvantages. Filamentous fungi are particularly problematic as their morphology is difficult to be controlled in fermentation systems, thus the synthesis process and the quality of production is varying.
The herewith offered innovative production process of itaconic acid uses genes encoding for the biosynthesis pathway of unicellular fungi from the family of Ustilaginaceae, in particular Ustilago maydis. By modification of these genes the efficiency of itaconic acid production can be markedly improved and enables a more reliable process with less risk of batch failure. Another advantage over A. terreus, which is also classified as a toxin-producing animal pathogenic fungus in certain countries which is limiting its applicability at industrial scale, is that the species Ustilago maydis has a history of safe use. In addition, Ustilago maydis can be easily genetically engineered and grown in liquid culture up to high cell densities and good to handle temperatures of up to 34°C.
The university offers a license agreement as well as a technical cooperation agreement. A technical cooperation could imply the optimization of the already patented process as well as the realization of additional advancements.

Advantages and Innovations

The German university developed an easy to handle biosynthesis with unicellular fungi to produce itaconic acid. Compared to the current proceedings the methodology offers the following advantages:
- More effective biotechnological production process of a basic chemical platform component
- Overexpression of itaconic acid in recombinant host cells
- Novel itaconic production genes and pathway allows more freedom to operate
- Expression cassette and vectors encoding itaconic acid synthesis pathway are available
- Safe use

Stage Of Development

Field tested/evaluated

Stage Of Development Comment

Market ready version of a new biotechnological process.

Requested partner

The university offers a license agreement as well as a technical cooperation agreement. This offer addresses companies from the chemical or biotechnology sector. A technical cooperation could imply the optimization of the already patented process as well as the realization of additional advancements.

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