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Diagnostics, Materials & Systems
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Making high-margin, low-waste enzyme production possible

MetGen offers custom development of high-performance speciality enzymes for cleantech applications, focusing on accelerating the discovery of and/or improving the properties of target proteins. The company’s services range from site-specific mutagenesis design and combinatorial DNA libraries to screening and recombinant enzyme assays.

MetGen uses its proprietary technology and modern rational strain design and evolution tools to develop fine, speciality, and high-volume chemicals. The company is working on developing new strains and fermentation technologies with unique properties – to provide intermediates for drugs and other fine chemicals, produce industrial enzymes for pulp and paper producers and other biomass-related industries, and develop speciality chemicals from hemicellulose and lignin by-products.

MetGen’s approach is based not on trying to provide incremental improvements to genome research-derived methods already in use elsewhere, but rather on leveraging the potential of the rising wave of proteome research.

Its Smart Codon Permutator technology, for example, carefully selects gene sites to be mutated and synthesises representative oligo libraries. Together with MetGen’s proprietary Sequence Blender technology, this offers significant advantages over existing approaches in terms of selectivity, productivity, and the eventual costs of the industrial enzymes or microorganisms that are produced.

MetGen technology has been tested with a number of applications and, following its success in creating a new generation of biotransformation technology and synthesising unique compounds, the company is looking forward to applying its know-how on a wider basis.

Overcoming the drawbacks of today’s laccases

MetGen’s technology is highly versatile and applicable to a range of enzyme and industrial applications. The current focus from a technological point of view is on developing enzymes to solve critical energy efficiency issues related to industrial processes and biofuels using laccases.

Interest in these eco-friendly oxidoreductases – which catalyse substrates at the expense of molecular oxygen and produce water as the only by-product – has grown significantly in recent years, as they can be used in a wide range of applications from textiles and pulp and paper to food and bioremediation. Laccases also have uses in organic synthesis and pharmaceuticals and nanotechnology.

The fungal laccases most widely used today, because of their high redox potential, suffer from various drawbacks, however. They are expensive to produce, grow slowly, and are endogenously expressed at very low concentrations.

MetGen is addressing these challenges by blending the structural and functional features of efficient fungal laccases with robust bacterial proteins to produce affordable and efficient enzymes.

MetGen’s biocatalytical processes make producing pharmaceuticals and industrial products faster, cleaner, and less expensive. By using Met- Gen’s biotransformation methods, manufacturing costs can be reduced by as much as 70%.
> Alex Michine
(Published in HighTech Finland 2010)