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Synthesis of secondary metabolites in filamentous fungi

Country of Origin: Germany
Reference Number: TODE20200723001
Publication Date: 23 July 2020


A Berlin-based university has developed a process of synthesis of secondary metabolites in fungal host organisms for the production of novel antibiotics. The institute is interested in a cooperation in the framework of a license or a research cooperation agreement.


Fungal secondary metabolites have a long history as antibiotic agents. One prominent example is penicillin. Novel antibiotics are often based on cyclic depsipeptides (CDPs).  However, the production of these antibiotics on an industrial scale is known to be problematic.

A Berlin-based university has developed a solution for this problem. Optimization of the synthesis can be achieved by using fungal expression systems. Expression systems are genetic constructs (a gene encoded by DNA) that are designed to produce a protein, or an RNA (ribonucleic acid), either inside or outside a cell. Expression systems can be used in the commercial production of enzymes or therapeutics.

The innovation presented here contains a process for the synthesis of secondary metabolites such as cyclodepsipeptides in fungal host organisms (genera: Aspergillus, Penicillum, yeast). The necessary fungal enzymes can be modified by the introduction of altered gene sequences (synthetic or designed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR)).

Expression is performed by an inducible, controllable and metabolism-independent system, such as the tetracycline (Tet) system. This system can be switched on or off by constitutive, inducible or suppressible promoters and thus offers the possibility for further optimization. Following fed-batch cultivation, the extraction of the secondary metabolite from the biomass achieves satisfactory yields with high purity and low background contamination by other metabolites.

The university is interested in a cooperation in the framework of a license agreement or a research cooperation agreement. A future licensee would have the authorization to use the technology in return for a fee or a share of royalties. The client would also agree to a research cooperation agreement that aims at the joint further development of the technology.

Advantages and Innovations

- The process is able to guarantee a high yield and purity
- Controllable cultivation inside bio reactors is possible
- Fungi or its enzymes can be modified

Stage Of Development

Under development/lab tested

Stage Of Development Comment

A small scale prototype is available.

Requested partner

The university is looking for partners from the biotechnology or pharma industry or biological research for a license or a research cooperation agreement.

In the framework of a license agreement partners like industry, SMEs or academic would be authorized to use the licensed technology, e.g. for the production of novel antibiotics.
In a research cooperation agreement the partner could be industry, a SME or a university to further develop the technology together.

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