To investigate the stabilisation of enzymes for industrial biocatalysis by immobiilsation on cellulose nanofibres

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Biochemical Engineering


Immobilisation of enzymes for flow chemistry is advantageous, in particular when dealing with unstable products, sequential enzyme steps or cofactor dependent / regeneration steps. Low temperature immobilised biocatalysts may be advantageous when dealing with volatile or labile reactants. This has applications in the pharmaceutical, food and fragrance industries with reduced energy input contributing to improved process economics and safety. Puridify Ltd manufacture cellulose nanofibre (CNF) membranes which have been applied to chromatography due to their high surface area, flowrates and capacity. This material holds significant promise for enzyme immobilisation, as due to the permeability of the connected nanopore structure, reactions are diffusion rate limited. This PhD project seeks to evaluate how immobilisation on CNF may enhance the activity or stability of low temperature biocatalysts. UCL has a collection of enzymes identified through metagenomic analysis, and in addition Dr Brenda Parker has an existing collaboration with Dr Will Goodall-Copestake (BAS) on mining the transcriptomes of cold-water tunicates (salps) for novel low-temperature enzymes.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/R512400/1 01/10/2017 31/03/2022
1932998 Studentship EP/R512400/1 25/09/2017 24/01/2022 Ekta Rayani
Description This work has helped to identify a novel method of discovering Salpa thompsoni enzymes, the focus of this project is lipase enzymes. Using computational bioprospecting software we were able to identify genes of interest using known amino acid sequences. Enzymes were identified from both the Salp Genome as well as the public research bank, the Tara Oceans Project. Here we successfully expressed the Salp Lipase using two different cell lines. We aim to characterise these and understand the truly cold nature of these enzymes by answering the question, 'Are Salp Enzymes cold-adapted or cold-tolerant?' and put this into context with the bigger picture of Biochemical Engineering, can we use these enzymes in the Industry? We aim to also immobilize these enzymes onto Cellulose Nanofibre membranes and see if this affects the stability and activity of the lipase. The application of this methodology is to then try to use these immobilised systems to produce odour compounds as a simple method of testing the activity of the enzyme.
Exploitation Route Novel cold-tolerant lipases may have applications in the food, fragrance or biotechnology sectors. The method of discovering and expressing cold enzymes could be used to identify and immobilise other cold enzymes.
Sectors Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

Description Reported to the Industry Sponsor. It has been presented to the department which may influence the way in which others work.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology
Description GE-Puridify to provide the Immobilisation Matierials 
Organisation Puridify
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution I have provided the enzymes to immobilise
Collaborator Contribution They have provided the materials to immobilize enzymes Provided training to ensure that this is used efficiently and provided technical support to troubleshoot issues
Impact NA
Start Year 2017
Description School Visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Carried out a biochemical engineer workshop at a school in Stanmore where we inspired year 12's and year 11's to choose biochemical engineering as an option for university.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
Description School Visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact 100 6th form students were invited to the talk to discuss Biochemical Engineering and to gain further interest in the field.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020