Project DETOX was launched in 2016 through the award of a 5-year Translation Grant through the Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst (Innovate UK, BBSRC, EPSRC). It is led from the Department of Biology at the University of York by Prof. Gavin H. Thomas with collaborators at the Universities of Nottingham, Sheffield, Exeter and Cambridge. Working with industrial partners Lucite, Ingenza and the CPI, the team aim to understand the physiological changes that microbes use to enable survival when exposed to bio-manufacturing chemicals that are toxic to them. DETOX solutions will then provide engineered chassis strains for its key partners for use in bioproduction to yield higher final titres of product – a problem that currently limits the financial viability of some processes.
The systematic stress responses mediated by chemicals will be evaluated using an integrated systems approach combining transcriptomic, metabolomic, lipidomic and membrane proteomic analysis of samples from production fermentations, integrated with metabolic modeling a new in-house stress process based data analysis tool. Publicly available data will be presented through DETOXbase.
In addition to bespoke strains for current partners, we will develop a suite of ‘DETOX cassettes’ that take selected resistance elements, for example genes encoding efflux pumps, or membrane structure altering enzymes, assembled using synthetic biology protocols to create a library of parts that can be introduced into diverse production hosts.