Natural Products Discovery and Bioengineering Network (NPRONET)

NPRONET led by Jason Micklefield and Barrie Wilkinson (John Innes Centre) has received £1.5 million from BBSRC to bring together Chemists and Biologists from academia and industry to accelerate the natural product discovery and bioengineering process. 

Natural products, which are secondary metabolites produced predominantly by microorganisms and plants, have inspired the development of many blockbuster drugs including anticancer and immunosuppressive agents, as well as most of the antibiotics in clinical use today. Natural products are also used in agriculture as herbicides, pesticides and fungicides to increase crop yields which can help feed the growing population.

The network is timely, not only because of the urgent need for new antibiotics but also because the explosion in genome sequencing is revealing a vast array of new and unexploited biosynthetic gene clusters with the potential to make novel natural products. Building on the UKs established expertise in natural products chemistry, biosynthesis and microbiology NPRONET will devise methods to activate the expression of biosynthetic gene clusters to discover new natural product. Many natural products are too complex for effective total synthesis at least on the scale required for practical applications. Consequently, bioengineering methods, that exploit synthetic biology tools and technology, will be developed to enable rapid structural diversification and optimisation of the most promising natural product molecules for therapeutic, agrochemical and other applications.

NPRONET industrial partners include: GSK, Syngenta, Novartis, Pfizer, Novacta, Dr Reddy’s, Croda, Cantab AI, Biosyntha, Isomerase, Demuris, Hypha, EntreChem SL.

PLEASE NOTE the £1.5 million includes £1.0 Million coming later

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