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Synthetic Biology Products: Cost Competitive and Performance Driven

July 24, 2015
The Monday morning BIO World Congress session, commanded an overcrowded and enthusiastic attendance, and one of the few times where presentations involved the importance of synthetic biology technology for the production of consumer products, which drew more attention than ever before.

The session was kicked off by the CEO of Modular Genetics, Kevin Jarrell, who spoke about the production of glycinate an ultra-mild surfactant made by using engineered microorganism which converted underutilized agricultural waste material into useful renewable chemicals found in products such as Unilever’s New Dove® Sensitive Skin Body Wash. The presentation was followed by Karl Sanford, DuPont Fellow, who presented the value creation of biobased products from their flagship renewable chemical, 1,3-propanediol monomer which continues to produce Sorona® polymer and downstream consumer products. Furthermore, Karl spoke about DuPont’s synthesis of omega-3 fatty acids, nutritional supplements essential for human health.

Evolva’s VP, Stephan Herrera, spoke about their key products launched in 2014, vanillin derived from synthetic biology, where greater than 98% of world’s vanillin comes from synthetic organic chemistry, and resveratrol which is the desirable ingredient, also referred to as the “anti-aging” chemical, and is also found in red wine. They plan to launch nootkatone this year, which is used in flavors and fragrances, and has a fragrance that of grapefruits. Other products mentioned in the pipeline which will be launched in 2016 are stevia, a natural zero-calorie sweetener, and saffron, the world’s most expensive spice!

Dong-Eun Chang, Director at Metabolix, spoke about the development of next generation strains from engineering microbes, and mentioned examples such as PHB-co-5HV, which has led to the development of proprietary metabolic pathways to a series of PHA co-monomers such as glycolic acid, 3-hyroxypropionic acid, 4-hyroxybutyric acid, 4-hydroxyvaleric acid, 5-hydroxyvaleric acid, 3-hydroxy-C6, 8,10,12 acids. Their technology enables control of polymer structure such as types of ratio of monomers and molecular weight, leading to functionality targeted solutions and end-product performance. The very last presentation was by Darren Platt, VP at Amyris, who spoke about engineering living factories using synthetic biology technology that produce chemicals from sustainable sources for the production of diesel, emollients, and medicinal products.