NCIMB and GitLife win innovate UK funding to support development of new therapeutic solutions

Aberdeen-based biotechnology company NCIMB is teaming up with innovative Newcastle University Spinout GitLife Biotech in a 12-month project that will investigate the therapeutic potential of gut microbes. The project aims to develop a new class of therapeutics based on living bacteria to prevent or treat disease.  The work has been funded by Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)

The project will use engineering biology to enhance the therapeutic potential of microbial strains from NCIMB’s culture collection. Explaining more about the work, NCIMB’s CEO Dr Edward Green said: “It is now well established that an imbalance of species within the gut microbiome can be associated with poor health and a broad range of diseases. We aim to apply an in-depth knowledge of microbiology to target bacterial species known to play a key role in gut health. We will focus on the use of engineering biology to enhance metabolite levels that play an important role in the gut microbiome. If successful, we will develop a new engineered bacterial strain that can be used to maintain a healthy gut microbiome and can therefore be used to prevent or treat disease”.

One of the challenges in the use of live biotherapeutics is the need for well-documented information relating to strain provenance and integrity, in other words, the ability to identify and track the specific strain used. NCIMB’s project partners, GitLife Biotech, will bring an innovative approach to this, essentially barcoding the bacteria to create a transparent digital footprint. Their biosecurity platform captures and organises biological data, and links that data to the microbial strain using a unique, non-coding DNA sequence in order to differentiate the engineered strain from similar strains of the same species.

GitLife CEO Alastair Orr Ewing said: “Our innovative cloud-based platform provides a mechanism to prove ownership and secure engineered assets. While this project is focused on a therapeutic application there are considerable potential benefits for the version control and biosecurity of a wide range of products and applications of engineered microorgansims. As society increasingly looks to microorganisms to provide sustainable solutions in key areas such as health, this technology could have an important role to play”.

The project kicked-off in February with a duration of 12 months.

Dr Green concluded: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with GitLife Biotech in this project. When we moved to our purpose-built new laboratories just over a year ago, we envisaged this would serve as a catalyst for more innovative research and development work. We are also keen to grow our microbiome services, so this new project fulfils two objectives towards our exciting vision for the future”.

In addition to taking part in collaborative projects, NCIMB supplies strains and provides storage, sequencing and strain characterisation services to support microbiome research and companies developing microbiome and probiotic products. You can find more information about our gut microbiome services here or get in touch using the form below to find out more our services or working with us in a collaborative project.

Dr Edward Green, CEO, NCIMB

We aim to apply an in-depth knowledge of microbiology to target bacterial species known to play a key role in gut health.