Our group is working on applying synthetic biology tools to engineer microbial cell factories to produce high value a bulk products such as biofuels, biopolymers, pharmaceuticals. We are mainly focusing on isoprenoids (e.g. anti-cancer drug Taxol), chiral amino-alcohols and venturing in marine natural products using microbial hosts such as S. cerevisiae, Y. lipolytica, E. coli, C. glutamicum and P. aeruginosa.
We use different novel in house genome engineering tools which allow to multiplex to rapidly build and optimise stable synthetic pathways. We aim to combine the tools of proteomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics, kinetic modelling, next generation sequencing and microscale automated instrumentation to rapidly detect the bottlenecks and optimise the pathway using engineering principles.
An application of metabolic engineering studies is the production of the pharmaceutical Ephedrine in Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells. Ephedrine is an essential in preventing low blood flow during spinal anesthesia as indicated by the WHO. The current pathway is chemoenzymatic- the first part of the reaction is performed enzymatically the second step is carried out chemically. The purpose of this application is to create a more sustainable as well as cost-effective approach to the production of Ephedrine. Saccharomyces cerevisiae serves as an excellent host for this application as it has been studied extensively as a model organism, and can efficiently accommodate the side products that arise during the reaction.