Cell-Free and Cell-Based Bioproduction

Conserving resources and establishing efficient material cycles are the challenges which industry and technology are currently facing. In the health sector in particular, an adequate and inexpensive availability of high quality synthetic tissue products is an important prerequisite to allow further advances to be made. Highly complex proteinogenic agents, for example, provide the basis for the development of vaccines and antibodies. The demand for complex peptides and proteins, or in general the demand for synthetic biomolecules, from the food technology industry, along with the agricultural, cosmetics and detergent industries, is also growing steadily.

At present, these substances are often produced with the aid of living cells or organisms. These systems are, however, subject to significant limitations: A considerable input of material and energy is required for maintaining the metabolic processes of microorganisms or the cell cultures themselves, which limits the cost effectiveness of this approach. In addition, many metabolites and end products are toxic, or have a toxic effect on cells or organisms in higher concentrations than are required for cost-effective production. This means that many important substances cannot be produced at all or only in small volumes.

In this context, the cell-free bioproduction of high quality biomolecules is opening up previously unknown potential. By making exclusive use of the sub-cellular components of the organism required for synthesis, biomolecules with complex, as well as completely new, properties can be produced efficiently in suitable reaction environments. The technologies that have been established at our institute in Golm make a cost-effective use of these methods possible, thereby creating a new basis for the economic production of active proteins.

Furthermore, the CCCryo culture collection, a unique biological resource in the form of cryophilic microscopic algae is being researched within the context of academic and private-sector applications. Using them to obtain high quality substances, such as antioxidants or fatty acids, is the key focus of this endeavor. Within this context, photobioreactors optimized for the specific product are being developed.