Partnership to develop compartmentalisation technology

Lead Research Organisation: University of Kent
Department Name: Sch of Biosciences


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Description Our collaborative efforts have shown that bacterial microcompartment (BMC) technology can be applied to a broad range of enzymes. Currently we are looking at the use of BMCs for use with lipases for biotechnological processes but we also hope to develop this further for use with high value chemicals. The aim of the partnering award was to exploit the concept that the spatial arrangement of enzymes within the cell can be manipulated in order to enhance specific metabolic pathways. we have applied this technology to E. coli and are currently looking at whether the same technology can be applied to yeast cells. As part of this grant we have had visitors over from the ICT to the University of Kent and similarly we have had a group of early career researchers visit the ICT in Mumbai to learn about their research capabilities. The award has been very successful in that we have had two early career researchers visit the University of 4-6 months periods and we have recently been jointly awarded a major GCRF grant to take forward our shared interests in the provision of vitamin B12. A further PhD student on a Newton Bhabha fellowship will be visiting from Pune in the summer of 2020.
Exploitation Route We have shown that the partnering award scheme works well by forging links with researchers abroad. We have successfully arranged visits between the two institutes and gained external funding for further visits and secondments from both Newton Bhabha and GCRF. The research teams at both Kent and the ICT have learnt about their own research capabilities and have identified a number of ways their research can be sued synergistically to help tackle important global issues including malnutrition, bioremediation and the provision of cheaper biotherapeutics. The template we have used for the development of this partnership can be easily replicated in other Universities in order to advance important scientific collaboration. The programme was affected by the Covid outbreak and some of the proposed visits were curtailed as a consequence. However, meetings were still held via Zoom and discussion still continues about the the development of the work.
Sectors Agriculture

Food and Drink




including Industrial Biotechology

Description The main scientific objective of the partnering award was to develop networking relationships between the University of Kent group in the UK and the group at the Mumbai Institute for Chemical Technology, especially with a view to the inclusion of younger scientists on the project. However, on our visit to India we also had the opportunity to visit clinicians working on vitamin B12 deficiency and insufficiency and as a result of this we have set up other collaborations to look at how a B12 shortage in India can be addressed. Collectively, these visits have been highly successful, allowing the early career researchers to learn about the research practices in each institution and to discuss their own areas of scientific interest. From these visits, further funding has been secured in the form of grants to allow PhD students to visit Kent (Newton Bhabha fellowships) as well as a major GCRF award to help tackle the problem of vitamin B12 deficiency in India. The combined expertise of the researchers at the University of Kent and the ICT in Mumbai has enabled a major programme of research involving the down-stream processing of vitamin B12 to reduce costs, as well as developing alternative culturally appropriate foods that are rich in the nutrient to show that it is bioavailable from such sources. The sharing of knowledge and resource has proved to be both stimulating and exciting to all those involved.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Chemicals,Education,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Cultural



Description Enhancing cobalamin (vitamin B12) bioavailability in culturally appropriate foods in India
Amount £1,511,891 (GBP)
Funding ID BB/S014020/1 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2019 
End 03/2022
Description Collaboration with Prof Arvind Lali and Dr Ann Anil 
Organisation Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT)
Country India 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The ICT researchers have developed a range of separation technologies, which are important to us for the purification of biologically produced commodities such as vitamin B12.
Collaborator Contribution Together we have applied for GCRF funding to help enhance the provision of the nutrient in India.
Impact We have successfully applied for GCRF funding
Start Year 2017
Description Collaboration with Prof Chittaranjan Yajnik 
Organisation KEM Hospital, Pune
Country India 
Sector Hospitals 
PI Contribution Prof Yajnik provides access to a number of patients who are severely deficient in vitamin B12 - and this has been the focus of a major GCRF application aimed at trying to enhance vitamin B12 levels in cultural foods.
Collaborator Contribution We have developed a scheme that will allow for the testing of a number of different vegetarian-type foods as vitamin-enriched sources of B12.
Impact We have been successful in gaining funding from a GCRF application, which aims to provide more B12 within India and has the long-term of reducing B12 deficiency within the country.
Start Year 2017