The Novo Nordisk Foundation grants almost 8 Mio. DKK to three CFB projects

Monday 14 Nov 16


Ivan Mijakovic
DTU Biosustain


Alex Toftgaard Nielsen
DTU Biosustain
+45 21 79 89 06


Anne Wärme Lykke
Communications Officer
DTU Biosustain
+45 21 12 37 70

Three researchers from The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability (CFB) have each been granted more than 2.5 Mio. DKK by the Novo Nordisk Foundation for projects regarding biotechnological synthesis and production of high value chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

The three grants were all part of the Novo Nordisk Foundation’s programme “Biotechnology-based Synthesis and Production”, which supports research projects aimed at generating products in improved and more sustainable ways.

The three recipients are Senior Researcher and Co-PI Helene Faustrup Kildegaard, Professor Alex Toftgaard Nielsen, and Professor Ivan Mijakovic – all from The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability at Technical University of Denmark.

Trying to reduce cellular stress

Helene Faustrup Kildegaard will be using the funding to do research on Chinese Hamster Ovary Cells (CHO cells), trying to reduce the stress arising inside the cells during production of therapeutic proteins. By reducing the stress, the cells can produce better drugs in higher concentrations. In order to engineer the CHO cells, the researchers will use the molecular editing system called CRISPR/cas9.

Biologically produced textiles and absorbents

Ivan Mijakovic’s project aims to improve the production of 3-hydroxypropanoate (3HP) in genetically engineered bacteria. 3HP is an intermediate chemical, which can be turned into a large palette of products, for instance resin, paint, adhesives to carpets, textiles and absorbents.

3HP can be produced from glycerol by the bacterium Bacillus subtilis – currently in concentrations of up to 10 g/liter. This number should increase to 50 g/liter or higher in order for this production method to become commercially interesting. Hence, with this grant Ivan Mijakovic’s group will optimize the cells and eliminate bottlenecks in the production pathways by for instance removing unwanted cellular processes.

E.coli for making valuable building blocks

Alex Toftgaard Nielsens project is called “Decouple” and is about decoupling growth from the production of biochemicals and proteins within cell factories. Decoupling growth and production is important to reach high concentrations of product and at the same time limiting cell growth. In this way, the cells use their resources to produce chemicals instead of commercially uninteresting molecules. 

This work focuses mainly on the production of higher concentrations of the amino acids Tyrosine and L-Serine in E. coli. L-serine has been proposed as a potential building block for production of a range of chemicals and materials. It is currently used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries with an estimated annual demand of 400 tons.

The three research projects will run for a three-year period.

Related videos  

Susanne Brix Pedersen

video thumbnail image

video thumbnail image

video thumbnail image

Show more

News and filters

Get updated on news that match your filter.