REA – The biotechnological research project on enzymes from algae

Algae have great potential for the development of new or better enzymes. Redoxenzymes from algae (REAs) in particular can serve as attractive products in the bio-industry, since many refinements in the biotech industry are based on redox reactions.

The overall aim is to develop a superior, competitive marker enzyme for use in diagnostics and biotechnology and establishment of an industry-oriented service (peptide database).

Since February 1, 2020, CRM, the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH) and the Bremen University of Applied Sciences have been investigating the possible uses of algal enzymes in the “REA” research project.
This project, funded by the BMBF with EUR 1.1 million, aims in particular to “tap” the enormous potential of previously unexplored small redox enzymes from marine algae (REAs).

There are two main goals:

  • the development of a superior, competitive marker enzyme in medical diagnostics and
  • the establishment of a database for algae-related proteins or enzymes as the basis for an industry-oriented service.

The customer needs in industry and the potential of proteins are to be reconciled. The research partners are working on using the algal enzymes that could hold a prominent position in the bio-industry.
This makes sense from an economic perspective, because the enzyme market is “booming”: In 2017, for example, global sales in this sector rose by 6.7% to EUR 5.8 billion. The demand for enzymes for diagnostics is also increasing. In this positive environment, redox enzymes from algae could enrich the biotechnological workbench. In addition, the establishment of a marketable service based on the “algal enzyme database” should improve the cost efficiency of research and development in the bioeconomy. This should work primarily in that the database sorts and retrieves the diverse information about the algal enzymes and shows a possible industrial application. Interested parties from the bio-industry have the opportunity to “discover” new enzymes.

The “REA” project is a good example of how experts from different areas form a high-performance consortium that complements each other. This consortium brings together expertise from marine ecology, algae physiology, protein characterization, bioinformatics, recombinant protein production, antibody technology and experience in business development and marketing.

The bioindustry needs new enzymes for redox reactions. Algae have a large but little used potential. The aim is to develop a marketable marker enzyme based on algae that is superior to previous solutions. With this enzyme, for example, an optimal value creation from algae biomass from marine locations in Germany is to be generated. It is based on innovative approaches to extraction, enrichment, characterization, recombinant expression, bioinformatic analyzes and chemical / genetic coupling to antibodies.

The applicant CRM is participating in this project with extensive bioinformatic analyzes of transcritome sequences, as well as the development of a transcriptome database and a protein repository. CRM also has the task of supplying the project partners with domestic algae or their RNA. Furthermore, CRM is responsible for the project management and the preparations for an economic exploitation of the project results. This coordination task aligns customer needs with the “characteristics” of algal proteins at the genome and proteome level and vice versa.

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