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Biomaterials for the production of biopharmaceuticals: University of Bayreuth a partner in new EU project

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University of Bayreuth, Press release No. 151/2020, 3 Novembre 2020

The University of Bayreuth is participating in the European joint project PURE with research work in the field of biomaterials. The project aims to develop new, sustainable, and cost-effective processes for the industrial production of biopharmaceuticals. Priority is being given to the purification of antibodies and virus-like particles suitable for cancer treatment or as vaccines. The EU is funding the project to the tune of almost €3 million over the next four years out of its "Development of Novel Ideas (FET Open)" programme.

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The project, coordinated by NOVA University Lisbon, kicked off in October 2020. Prof. Dr. Thomas Scheibel, Chair of Biomaterials, is in charge of the research work at the University of Bayreuth. Other partners are the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU) and the Institute of Experimental Biology and Technology (iBET) in Portugal. Together, the research partners wish to break new ground in interdisciplinary cooperation to allow bio-based materials to be used in the production of biopharmaceuticals on a much larger scale than before.

A particularly interesting field of application is purification. The active substances produced in bioreactors by microorganisms or mammalian cells must be purified from cell residues and nutrient solution for them to be used industrially. Up to now, this has been a lengthy and expensive process. However, nanofibres, which bind to biological products with great precision, could provide a breakthrough.

"Biogenic, mechanically robust membrane systems made of nanofibres are ideally suited for air and water filtration purposes. Using molecular biological methods, we could feasibly develop nanofibres that enable the selective purification of biopharmaceuticals. We are looking forward to contributing to this fascinating project", says Thomas Scheibel.

The project partners expect that the purification technology envisaged will be beneficial in both social and ecological terms. As a result of their greater speed and efficiency, they would make biopharmaceuticals accessible to a larger group of patients. They would also reduce the ecological footprint of biopharmaceutical manufacturers. And because they are fully degradable and combine environmental friendliness with improved cost-effectiveness, they would fully meet the requirements of a modern bio-economy. At present, biopharmaceuticals are not sufficiently available in many countries due to high manufacturing costs - although they are often crucial for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of many diseases.

"We are pioneers in the development of new materials and processes for more efficient, cost-effective, and more sustainable purification of biopharmaceuticals," says Prof. Dr. Cecília Roque of NOVA University Lisbon. "In fact, the purification of biopharmaceuticals accounts for up to 80 percent of total production costs," adds Dr. Cristina Peixoto from the Institute of Experimental Biology and Technology (iBET). "There is a currently an urgent need for innovativon in the purification of virus-like particles and other biopharmaceuticals, especially in view of the current COVID 19 pandemic," says Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Alois Jungbauer from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU).

"Development of novel ideas (FET Open)" is a funding line in the EU "Horizon 2020" framework programme for research and innovation. It aims to promote, at an early stage, unusual research ideas promising to break away from established scientific procedures and advance the development of innovative technologies.

Contact:

Prof. Dr. Thomas Scheibel
Biomaterials
Faculty of Engineering Science
University of Bayreuth
Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-6700 und -6701
E-mail: Thomas.Scheibel@bm.uni-bayreuth.de


Editorial office:

Christian Wißler
​Science Communication
University of Bayreuth
Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-5356
E-mail: 
christian.wissler@uni-bayreuth.de

Translation:

Ralph Reindler

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