Impact: EaStCHEM spin out Albachem (1994), subsequently
incorporated into the Almac group,
enabling the latter company to become a world leader in the provision of
Significance: Chemical synthesis is competitive with recombinant
methods for commercial
production of the therapeutic polypeptides that represent ~50% of drugs in
big pharma pipelines
and have a market value in 2008 of over $13B. The value attributable to
Ramage's methods for
polypeptide syntheses over the REF period is estimated at approximately
Beneficiaries: Drug manufacturers, contract research
organisations, patients, clinicians.
Research: Studies (1993-6) led by Ramage (at the University of
Edinburgh) on new methods for
high-yield total syntheses and purification of long polypeptides.
Reach: Almac's protein-manufacturing team remains in the UK with
24 staff members. The Almac
Group, headquartered in N. Ireland, has 3300 employees globally (1300
outside UK) and sells to
600 companies worldwide.
In High Gravity (HG) brewing the substrate (the wort§)
fermented by the yeast is concentrated
from a traditional value of about 12% solids to concentrations of upwards
of 20%. Research (1993-2008)
by Graham's Stewart's team at Heriot-Watt, into the process of brewing
beer and distilling
spirits in a more cost effective and quality enhanced manner led to
substantial improvements in the
HG brewing process, now used worldwide. This allows up to 50% more beer to
be made at the
same plant and reduces distillation costs. In both industries HG-wort
production has allowed very
substantial savings (>£555 million) in capital expansion costs.
§The substrate produced by the mashing of malt and grains — primarily
consisting of fermentable sugars.
Research and knowledge dissemination led by Greenwich on biological
pesticides has made a major contribution to the introduction of novel safe
commercial pesticides based on insect viruses to help farmers overcome the
problems of chemical resistance in major crop pests in Asia and Africa.
Research at Greenwich identified effective virus strains, methods of
production and formulation which were then developed and evaluated with in
country research collaborators before being transferred to local SMEs to
start up production in India, Thailand, Kenya and Tanzania. Greenwich
advised governments on adopting suitable regulation to support the
registration and sale of these novel pesticides.
The impacts in this case study arise from research into the pathways, and
processes by which novel vectors and vector borne diseases may be
introduced into the Galapagos islands. On the basis of the research, the
Ecuadorian government changed national legislation on biosecurity, and
implemented a suite of new mitigation measures including requiring all
aircraft flying to Galapagos to have disinsection treatments, and banned
direct international flights to the archipelago. The work increased
general awareness of potential impacts from introduced diseases on
Galapagos biodiversity, and the need to improve the biosecurity of the
islands, influencing policy decisions in a range of other international
organisations including UNESCO. The globally important biodiversity of
Galapagos is the basis of a significant fraction of the tourist and
national economy of Ecuador.
Industrial collaborators have achieved more efficient and cost-effective
routes to market for their oral hygiene and wound healthcare products as a
result of UWE in vitro biofilm models based on perfusion flow.
These have been used to measure the products' efficacy.
These companies include GABA international, GlaxoSmithKline, Insense Ltd
(now Archimed), and Healthcare International.
Healthcare International has developed an oral healthcare product
following the use of the UWE models to identify which of several compounds
were best suited for this; it has been sold and distributed by Boots
Practising dental professionals have been trained by UWE researchers,
using insights gained from our research findings, in correct procedures to
diagnose and treat breath malodour.
The use of implantable polymeric devices is limited by infection.
University of Nottingham research led to patented technology for
hydrocephalus shunts that provides biomaterials with long-acting
antimicrobial action. Almost 70% of shunts used annually in England now
comprise our [text removed for publication] shunt, and UK usage has grown
by 22% since 2008. The technology has reduced infection rates from 8.75%
(2008) to 3.6% (2013), and prevents around 370 brain infections and 38
deaths in England each year. This is saving NHS England an estimated
£18.4m in treatment costs each year, and generating company revenue.
Furthermore, our [text removed for publication] EVD catheters for
temporary relief of intracranial hypertension have reduced the rate of
brain infections from 7.6% to 0.9%.
The parasite Neospora caninum is the leading cause of abortion in
cattle in the UK, resulting in
around 6,000 abortions per year; and a $1.3b pa international problem.
There are no effective
drugs or vaccines to control neosporosis. University of Liverpool (UoL)
research on the
development of diagnostic tests, understanding the pathogenesis,
epidemiology and transmission
of N. caninum has made an important contribution to developing
best practise herd health
schemes, now offered by the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories
Agency (AHVLA) and by
a commercial company `myhealthyherd', to eradicate N. caninum
infection from a herd. This has
enabled cattle farmers to improve their businesses by reducing abortion
rates and other costs
associated with neosporosis.
Researchers at Plymouth University were the first to demonstrate the
occurrence of microscopic plastic debris in the environment. Professor
Thompson's team showed that `microplastic' particles had
accumulated since the 1960s and are present in oceans worldwide. This case
study describes the impacts from these findings and the subsequent
research by the team which demonstrated that marine organisms could ingest
and retain this material and that, upon ingestion, microplastics had the
potential to release chemical contaminants. The research impacted on UK,
European and American policy and contributed to a body of evidence which
influenced companies to phase-out microplastics from their products.
Weak acids (e.g. sorbic acid) are used by food manufacturers to prevent
fungal contamination of
food and beverages. Professor Archer in the Molecular Microbiology group
determined the fungal
species that cause such contamination, and identified fungal genes and
enzymes that confer
resistance to sorbic acid during initial outgrowth of fungal spores. They
biochemistry of the resistance mechanism, enabling design of improved
mould inhibitors. These
inhibitors, used at the correct time, have improved manufacturing
processes to prevent mould
contamination and product wastage. Knowledge of mould genetics has also
been applied to other
industries to improve food additive and biofuel manufacturing processes.
Research conducted by Professor Butt at Swansea University has led to
and economic impacts. It has provided evidence critical to the successful
commercialisation of the fungus Metarhizium anisopliae as a biocontrol
agent in Europe and
North America for insect pests, thereby enabling a reduced
dependency on chemical
pesticides. Insect pests cause £billions of crop losses globally;
this is projected to increase due to
intensified farming, pesticide resistance and climate change. Many
chemical pesticides have been
withdrawn due to the risks they pose to human health and the environment,
creating a need for
benign alternatives. A novel risk assessment showed that the risk to human
and animal health was
minimal, as metabolites generated by these fungi did not enter the food
chain. Furthermore, the
data and risk assessment methodology developed have been used by industry
authorities (such as the European Food Safety Authority) to make informed
decisions about the
safety of fungal biocontrol agents.