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2007 News


December 2007

PBL Helps Researchers Win £422,000 for Developing Promising Innovations

In November, PBL partnered BBSRC Institute researchers in five successful bids for Follow-on Funding, worth a total of £422,000. The successsul projects are with:

Prof Mike Gassson - IFR  
Prof Mervyn Bibb - JIC 
Dr Kay Denyer - JIC
Dr Graham Moores - Rothamsted (see below)
Dr Leif Skot - IGER

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December 2007

PBL is Building its Portfolio in Crop Pest Control: BBSRC Follow-on Fund Provides Further Support

Integrated pest management strategies including the use of natural pest control agents are of increasing importance to address both resistance in some crop pests and also to reduce the use of synthetic agro chemicals.

1)

 

Building on earlier work on cis-jasmone at Rothamsted Research, PBL funded Graham Moores and Georgina Bingham to enhance the effects of cis-jasmone as a natural crop protection agent, through use of a synergist. The synergist approach gives near complete control of white fly on tomatoes. Impressive results have also been achieved with aphids and sweet peppers. A successful Follow-on Fund application between Rothamsted and PBL has now secured funding to build on these results and further tests (including field trials) will be carried out during 2008.

 

2)

 

Jasmonic acid (JA) seed treatment developed by Nigel Paul, Mike Roberts and Jane Taylor at Lancaster University is another novel way to control insect pests. Plants grown from seeds treated with JA demonstrate prolonged resistance to insect pests. The technology has been successfully demonstrated with seeds from tomato, sweet pepper, wheat and maize with a range of pests, including caterpillars (of tobacco hornworm and Spooptera exempta), aphids and spider mite.

 

3)

 

Nematodes are another important pest in agriculture and are notoriously difficult to control, causing dramatic crop losses. Rosane Curtis and co-workers at Rothamsted Research in collaboration with the University of Nottingham and University of Sheffield, have found cysteine proteinases derived from various plant extracts to be active against a range of plant parasitic nematodes. Significant nematicidal effects (up to 90-95% mortality) were observed in assays. PBL has filed patent applications and is funding further development of this technology.

 

For more information, please contact Dr Lars von Borcke.

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December 2007

PBL Signs Agreement to Promote PBL Technologies in India and South East Asia

PBL has entered into an agreement with Sathguru Management Consultants for marketing PBL technologies in India and the Asian region. In order to best engage with the rapidly developing markets of South East Asia local representation is of vital importance. PBL has chosen to work with Sathguru (see www.sathguru.com) as they are a well established local organisation with excellent links into industry and government organisations. Sathguru has also established links with amongst others Cornell University and the US Department of Agriculture.

For more information, please contact Dr Lars von Borcke.

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December 2007

Viral “Armour” for RNA Control Sequences

Researchers at the John Innes Centre, in collaboration with the Institute of Animal Health, have developed a method of engineering synthetic sequence elements into a genomic fragment of the Cowpea Mosaic Virus (CPMV).  The CPMV particles are highly resistant to degradation, even over periods of many months in contact with biological fluids, and therefore make an ideal protective environment for the RNA.  The virus particles make ideal controls for molecular screening, as they can be added to a fresh sample prior to any processing and control for errors at all stages of the testing protocol.  This is invaluable when screening for notifiable diseases, for instance, where a false-negative result can have serious implications for infection control.  The technology is currently being evaluated in veterinary diagnostic applications, and attracting interest from commercial testing and reagent manfacturing companies. 


For more information, please contact Dr Martin Stocks

Cowpea Mosaic Virus

 
Image courtesy of Prof J E Johnson at
The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI),
La Jolla, USA

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December 2007

PBL Acquires Novel Adjuvant Technology

PBL has recently acquired an exciting new platform technology in the area of immunomodulation and adjuvant development from the Joint Biotechnology Laboratory in Finland and the Shemyakin-Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, Russia.  The researchers have used molecular display techniques to isolate peptide mimics of bacterial lipopeptides.  The mimics have similar or even improved immunostimulatory properties when compared with the parent molecules, but show none of the unwanted side effects that have prevented bacterial lipopeptides being developed as adjuvants.  Licensees are now being sought for both the peptide mimics and the method of production.

For more information, please contact Dr Martin Stocks.

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December 2007

The Financial Times - Procarta Biosystems Grabs Headlines

Procarta Biosytems Limited, the new company established by PBL and the John Innes Centre to combat antibiotic resistant “superbugs”, has received front page attention in The Financial Times, 3 December 2007. Procarta is using a novel, patented technology platform to develop new therapies to fight antibiotic resistance in bacterial pathogens, both for new antibiotics as well as existing, widely used anti-infective products where resistance is already a massive problem. Procarta's scientific founders are Dr Michael McArthur and Professor Mervyn Bibb.

Please click here to see article in full.

For more information please contact, Dr Michael McArthur (mmcarthur@procartabio.com) and see www.procartabio.com

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November 2007

PBL's Technology Development Programme - Investments reach £1.6m, targets exceeded

Since the launch of our DTI-funded Technology Development Programme in 2004, PBL has invested over £1.6m in developing and consolidating emerging public sector innovations. TDP projects have been conducted on 40 separate new technologies from 14 different research institutions and universities - including five BBSRC Institutes (John Innes Centre, The Institute of Food Research, Rothamsted Research, IBERS and Babraham Institute). TDPs have directly led to many new patent applications, a new spin-out company (Procarta Biosystems Limited), an increasing number of licensing deals and several hundred thousand pounds of licensing revenues from commercial uptake of these technologies - proving the value that can be added with TDP investment. The PBL TDP programme continues under further awards from DTI during the 2006 PSRE round, and we always welcome enquiries and suggestions for development of new innovations. 

For more information, please contact Dr Jan Chojecki.

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October 2007

PBL Patent Granted for Stationary Phase Expression (SPE) System in Streptomyces

PBL’s European patent for SPE Technology, developed by Prof Keith Chater and co-workers at the John Innes Centre (JIC), has now been granted - EP1244799. The technology allows for the tightly controlled expression of heterologous genes in Streptomyces species without the need for chemical inducers to be added to fermentations; relying upon the triggering of a genetic cascade as cells enter stationary phase.

In collaboration with the JIC, PBL have also developed a suite of proprietary streptomyces expression vectors (StrepX™). These highly effective vectors have been specifically designed to be free of third-party IPR thereby streamlining their transfer from the laboratory into commercial production systems.

Annual non-exclusive commercial R&D licences are available for both the SPE system and the StrepX™ vectors at an introductory rate valid until 1 March 2008. 

For more information, please click here or contact Dr Martin Stocks.

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August 2007

New Scientific Publication on NFR Genes for Nitrogen Fixation

LysM domains mediate lipochitin-oligosaccharide recognition and Nfr genes extend the symbiotic host range. Radutoiu, S et al. EMBO Journal (2007): 26 (17), 3923-3935.

To order this publication on line, please click here.

For more information, please contact Dr Jan Chojecki.

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August 2007

PBL Patent Granted in Australia

PBL's patent on Flavodoxin, developed by Nestor Carrillo at the Universidad Nacional de Rosario in Argentina, has been granted in Australia - 2002334130.  

Expression of a cyanobacterial flavodoxin in plants results in enhanced stress resistance and increased yield in field trials. 

Please click here for more information, or contact Dr Jan Chojecki.

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July 2007

New Scientific Publications on Constitutive Monocot Promoter: Rubi3

Rubi3-GUS expression 
in mature maize leaves

 

In addition to the recent paper published last year by E Sivamani and Ron Qu (Title: “Expression enhancement of a rice polyubiquitin gene promoter” published in Plant Molecular Biology (2006) 60 (2): 227-241), further developments are being published in the near future in Planta and Plant Molecular Biology reporting on the importance of the intron and also the 5' UTR sequence of the rice ubiquitin promoter.

Please click here for more information, or contact Dr Lars von Borcke.

 

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July 2007

Model Gut Wins an Award from EEDA's "Proof of Concept" Fund

PBL’s Model Gut project has won a grant of £26,250 from EEDA’s “Proof of Concept” Fund to consider viable routes to market for the innovative model of the human stomach, which was developed from research at the Institute of Food Research, Norwich.

Please click here for more information, or contact Dr Martin Stocks.

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July 2007

New PBL Venture - Procarta Biosystems

PBL is delighted to announce the launch of a new venture based on the John Innes Centre's world-leading expertise in streptomcyes.  Dr Michael McArthur and Professor Mervyn Bibb are the scientific co-founders of Procarta Biosystems Limited which is commencing operations in the Norwich BioIncubator.  Procarta offers the biotechnology and life science industries a range of services in the area of bacterial strain enhancement, based on the company's proprietary technology for efficient genetic optimisation of whole metabolic pathways.  Procarta will also be developing new proprietary therapeutic agents for overcoming antibiotic resistance in pathogenic microorganisms, widely recognised as an extremely serious problem for the healthcare industry.

Contact Dr Michael McArthur.  Website www.procartabio.com.

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June 2007

PBL Launches LabEnhancer™ a Novel Lactobacillus Prebiotic

PBL has commenced marketing a unique and novel prebiotic technology developed by Dr Primrose Freestone of the University of Leicester. LabEnhancer™ is a fruit-based extract which dramatically improves growth and probiotic qualities of lactic acid bacteria. The technology was showcased at the Probio2007 conference in Nantes where it received a great deal of interest from companies wanting to evaluate in diagnostics, bulk culture and as a prebiotic supplement.

For information please contact Dr Martin Stocks.

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June 2007

Tobacco Rattle Virus (TRV) Technology

Another commercial licensee has signed an agreement with PBL for access to PBL's and Yale's intellectual property for using the TRV virus induced gene silencing (VIGS) system. The TRV VIGS technology is a convenient tool for high throughput screening of sequences and extremely useful as a functional genomics tool. PBL offers a comprehensive IPR package that relies both on the underlying intellectual property developed by David Baulcombe and co-workers at the Sainsbury Laboratory as well as improvements developed at Yale by Dinesh-Kumar and co-workers. 

Please click here for more information, or contact Dr Lars von Borcke.

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June 2007

IP and Technology Transfer Workshops

In recent weeks PBL has run its IP and Technology Transfer Workshop modules for the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, together with the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research, and also for the student community at the John Innes Centre. These workshops can be tailored to individual requirements, and are supported by the BBSRC. 

For information please contact Dr Jan Chojecki.

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June 2007

New Scientific Publications on PBL Technologies

Root-Hair Gene - Published in Science

Professor Liam Dolan's group at the John Innes Centre have cloned and characterised basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors that control the development of root hairs in species as diverse as Arabidopsis and the bryophyte, Physcomitrella patens. The technology is assigned to and the subject of patent applications filed by PBL. 

An Ancient Mechanism Controls the Development of Cells with a Rooting Function in Land Plants. Menand, Yi, Jouannic, Hoffman, Ryan, Linstead, Schaefer and Dolan. SCIENCE Vol 316, 1477-1480 (2007). 

Stress Resistant Plants - Two New Papers on PBL’s Flavodoxin Technology

Enhanced plant tolerance to iron starvation by functional substitution of chloroplast ferredoxin with a bacterial flavodoxin. Tognetti VB, Zurbriggen MD, Morandi EN, Fillat MF, Valle EM, Hajirezaei M-R and Carrillo N. PNAS (2007): Vol 104 No. 27 pp 11495-11500. 

Detoxification of 2,4-dinitrotoluene by Transgenic Tobacco Plants Expressing a Bacterial Flavodoxin. Tognetti VB, Monti MR, Valle EM, Carrillo N and Smania AM. Environmental Science and Technology (2007): No 41 Issue 11 pp 4071-4076. 

 

For information please contact Dr Jan Chojecki.

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June 2007

Research Councils Business Plan Competition - PBL Coaching

Research Councils UK recently announced the Business Plan Competition for 2007/2008.
 

PBL offers free advice and coaching to groups of researchers from BBSRC institutes who are preparing an entry, on a first come first served basis. 


For information please contact Dr Jan Chojecki.

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May 2007

PBL’s Developing Business in India

Lars von Borcke recently presented at the STEM (Society for Technology Management) organised Graduate Course in IP Management & Technology Transfer in Goa, India. Lars presented on topics related to the AgBiotech industry giving insight from PBL's experience into the areas of the “Competitive Licensing Landscape in Agricultural Technologies” and presenting on “Technology Marketing Strategies”. The course was highly informative, sharing experiences from Indian organisations (including ICAR, ICMR and CSIR) with PBL, AUTM, Cornell University, the South African Medical Research Council and MIHR. The objective was to provide models for the Indian academic and commercial community to establish technology transfer and IP management in India. 

In addition Lars also visited a number of AgBiotech and seed companies in India and forged important links to both industry and academia in the rapidly evolving Indian AgBiotech market.

For more information please contact Dr Lars von Borcke.

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March 2007

PBL Patents Granted in USA and Australia

PBL's patents on b-Amyrin Synthase Gene, developed by Dr Anne Osbourn and coworkers at The Sainsbury Laboratory, have been issued in the USA - 7186884, and granted in Australia - 783739. 

Please click here for more information, or contact Dr Lars von Borcke.

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