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SBIR Phase II: Novel Proteolysis-based Tools for Metabolic Engineering

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 1256446
Agency Tracking Number: 1256446
Amount: $499,971.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: BC
Solicitation Number: N/A
Solicitation Year: 2012
Award Year: 2013
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2013-04-15
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2017-03-31
Small Business Information
27 Drydock Ave Floor 8
Boston, MA 02210-0000
United States
DUNS: 827811626
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Jason Kelly
 (617) 775-5585
Business Contact
 Jason Kelly
Phone: (617) 775-5585
Research Institution

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) project aims to engineer microbes for the cost-effective production of specialty chemicals. Currently, engineered microbial strains bear mutations that increase the production of chemicals of interest by inhibiting the cell's ability to produce off pathway chemicals. These "loss-of-function" mutations are critical as they effectively channel the cell's metabolic flux toward the product of interest. This both boosts the production efficiency and eases downstream purification by eliminating the accumulation of undesirable but chemically-similar contaminants. Unfortunately, these mutations may also decrease the fitness of the cells and, as a result, the growth media must be supplemented with costly nutrients. Technical research herein will assess the feasibility of applying novel regulated proteolysis technology to simultaneously direct maximal metabolic flux toward the target chemical of interest while avoiding the need to supplement the growth media. If successful, this technology would provide a great cost savings and enable fermentative production to be applied more broadly in the production of specialty chemicals. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is to provide a stable and cost-effective fermentative production route to a specialty chemical. Fermentative production of chemicals offers many advantages over traditional petrochemical or extraction-based production processes. Petrochemical production maintains the nation?s reliance on an unsustainable feedstock (oil) and also leads to national security issues as the US is largely dependent on foreign oil sources. Chemical production via extraction from plant materials also has ecological challenges. The process often uses toxic solvents, and may rely on unsustainable farming practices for many plants that are not traditional food crops. Engineered microbes fermented on sugar feedstock produced using high-efficiency agricultural practices offer a stable alternative for producing specialty chemicals, both in terms of supply and price.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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