Process improvement to enable economic production of prebiotics and demonstration of efficacy in feeding trials (PIPP)

Lead Research Organisation: Aberystwyth University
Department Name: IBERS

Abstract

Grass is a readily available feedstock for the production of prebiotics, a market worth $1.4 Billion. Grass juice fructans, converted to short chain molecules (SCM) by hydrolases, show prebiotic activity greater than commercial comparators (assessed using an artificial gut system). Market take-up is hampered by production cost and demonstration in animal systems. In this project the hydrolases will be cloned into a bacterium. This will greatly improve process economics and avoid the major cost of expensive enzymes. The SCMs produced will be used as feed supplements in mice trials. The prebiotic activity of these molecules will be assessed by examination of the mice microbiome using next generation sequencing. Additionally, economic viability, market opportunities, regulatory issues and supply chain logistics will also be determined ensuring a likely take-up of this technology in the market place.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description This project builds on previous work to produce and test an effective pre-biotic based on grass fructans, complex water-soluble sugars that are the main storage carbohydrate found in grasses. Previously identified enzymes that hydrolyse these polymeric fructan molecules to specific functional sugars were modified and successfully cloned and expressed. It was demonstrated that the microbe expressing the enzyme could successfully use the juice as a fermentation broth, allowing for bacterial growth and production of the recombinant enzyme. In the same fermentation broth these enzymes were shown to produce specific functional sugars from the complex fructans. The functional sugars were successfully isolated and purified using a series of filtration systems at pilot scale. Following feeding of these sugars to mice, it was observed that these sugars altered the microbiome of the mice gut, encouraging the growth of 'good bacteria' while reducing levels of potentially harmful bacteria, similar to observations when these functional sugars were assessed in an artificial gut system. Cost analysis indicated that the process was economically viable at large scale assuming production was part of an integrated biorefinery, where co-products would contribute to the over all economics. A report was prepared on the likelihood of market uptake and the companies most likely to drive this forward. A number of these companies were contacted and they expressed an interest in developing this technology further, although before committing, would like to see the outputs from further trials on larger animals.
Exploitation Route This research will be of interest to feed companies and companies producing pre-biotics for a range of sectors. We will enter into discussions with partners who have larger scale facilities to produce enough material for larger animal trials and to further assess process economics.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Healthcare

 
Description Based on the outcomes of experimental work and economic analysis undertaken as part of this project, the PDRA employed on this project attended a six week business development program (Bioaccellerate) to investigate the opportunity of setting up a spin-out company to develop and licence this technology. This included development of a prospective business plan, identifying the unique selling points of the novel fructo-oligosaccharide products, determination of market size and potential, and finally identifying further research requirements necessary to commercialise this process. Within this business development program information about the FoF was communicated to a number of parties, including representatives of Welsh government agencies, the Development Bank of Wales, Business mentors and patent attorneys specialising in biological science based inventions. A short business plan on product marketing and investment potential was pitched to a broad panel of scientific experts, representatives from Welsh scientific businesses, business mentors, a representative from the Development Bank of Wales, Angel investors, and patent attorneys. The development of a spin-out company is still being pursued.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Chemicals,Healthcare
Impact Types Economic

 
Description European regional development fund
Amount € 2,884,534 (EUR)
Organisation Welsh Assembly 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2018 
End 03/2023
 
Title Prebiotic composition 
Description Identification and method for isolation of pre-biotics from grasses 
IP Reference WO2015075440 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted
Licensed No
Impact To early, in development
 
Description ADAS visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation and discussion with representatives from ADAS as well as people from own institute on using grass as a feedstock for biorefining as well as for animal feed. Through these discussions, it is hoped that information will be conveyed to the farming community and industry.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description AIEC opening 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Opening of AU new Biorefining centre. Presentations were made on current biorefining projects along with equipment available to academics and industry.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Azerbaijan Ambassador visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation on biorefining research and potential opportunities for international collaboration.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Ben Lake MP visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation on our biorefining research
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Coleg Cambria visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Presentation and discussion on aspects of biorefining and implications for the future farming community.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description EIT-Health InnoStars Innovation Co-ordinator 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation on research and Discussions on possible integration between biorefining and health
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Farming Group - Diversification 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation and discussion with Farmers on new opportunities to diversity into new crops or look for new markets for existing crops in the context of biorefining.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description IBERS Centenary Celebrations 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Celebration of IBERS 100 years in plant breeding. Presentations given on biorefining projects and available equipment.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description National Farmers Union Wales 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Discussion to help direct delivery of NFU policy towards zero carbon including biorefining solutions
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Newtown rotary Club Visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Presented current and post research in the area of biorefining.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Presentation 4th LB conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Oral presentation at the 4th LBNet International Conference, 20-22 March 2019 Cheshire UK. Presented on developments in the production of novel pre-biotics and xylitol.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Regional Stakeholder Partnership for Land-based Goods 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presentation of production of platform chemicals/fuels/fine chemicals and potential health care products as well as integrated biorefining from a range of land-based feedstock.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Society for Dairy Technology Visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Discussions with representatives from the dairy industry to discuss alternative products, including oligomers as pre-biotics, processing routes and valorisation of waste streams.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Taiwan Ambassador visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation on current research activities and opportunity to collaboration and/or student exchanges
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Visit from UTM 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Return Visit by UTM team for further discussion on potential collaborative research and studentships etc.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Visit to Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Major discussions with Staff at both of the UTM campuses on areas of collaboration in Industrial biotechnology, bio-circular economy, engagement with Business, possible studentships and available equipment.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Wales Festival of Innovation 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation on biorefining capability and discussion of relevant projects undertaken by our research group with members of the public, students and farming community to inform on potential opportunities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Welsh Gov. innovation team 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation and discussion with Welsh Government Innovation Team, current projects, research strategy and future directions in the area of Industrial Biotechnology. This included our strategy for interacting with the business community, both in Wales and beyond.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Welshpool Earth Science group visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation and discussions on future farming and the potential of biorefining, creating new markets for agricultural outputs.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017