BMB Awarded an NSF Phase I STTR

National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Boston Mountain Biotech a Phase I STTR (small business technology transfer) commercialization grant for the “Harnessing CRISPR-mediated silencing for the one-step optimization of protein production strains”. This federal commercialization grant will assist in the continued development of the Lotus E. coli platform.

The NSF Small Business Innovation Research / Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) program seeks to transform scientific discovery into societal and economic benefit by catalyzing private sector commercialization of technological innovations. The program increases the incentive and opportunity for startups and small businesses to undertake cutting-edge, high-quality scientific research and development. ~ NSF SBIR/STTR Program

Researchers at BMB will be partnering with the researchers led by Dr. Chase Beisel at North Carolina State University, an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering

This Phase I award provides almost $225,000 of research funding over a one-year period to advance the development of the Lotus E. coli platform through the use of the CRISPR genome editing tool developed by Dr. Beisel. This research will allow BMB to address two of most significant barriers to adoption that have been mentioned during market research.  The first barrier is the length of time needed to implement the Lotus® technology. Followed by the second barrier which is that pharmaceutical companies’ proprietary cell lines are outside their direct control while the cell line is being upgraded.


STTR Grant Abstract

The broader/commercial impacts of this Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) project will be the development of a technology to engineer E. coli that will simplify the removal of contaminating cellular proteins as part of protein purification. Despite major advancements in biopharmaceutical manufacturing, protein purification remains one of the most costly and restrictive aspects of production that impacts negatively impacting start-ups and Fortune 500 companies alike. This STTR project seeks to directly tackle this challenge by developing a platform to identify the cellular proteins that exert the greatest burden on downstream processing, and then shut off these genes in the production strain. This platform could be readily implemented across much of the biomanufacturing industry, with the potential to reduce costs to consumers in the ever-burgeoning healthcare market and ease the time and investment required to bring new therapeutics to market.

This STTR Phase I project proposes to develop a single construct that can coordinately and tunably silence expression of the most burdensome contaminating proteins that are encountered when purifying protein therapeutics via ion exchange chromatography. The resulting construct could be readily incorporated into virtually any E. coli strain, offering a simple add-on to both commercialized and proprietary production strains. The planned outcome of the proposed Phase I work is a minimal viable product that substantially boosts the capture and purity of a representative biotherapeutic protein purified via ion-exchange chromatography. The associated construct will coordinately and completely turn off the expression of contaminating, non-essential genes, and finely tune the expression of contaminating, essential genes to improve target capture and purity while preserving cell growth. This construct will represent an important step toward a commercial product that could revolutionize how downstream processing is conducted in the expansive biopharmaceuticals industry.

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