Protein engineering techniques have been available for over two decades beginning with the development of methods for genetic engineering. Since that time, the engineering of enzymes has advanced rapidly along with a revolution in the range and efficiency of new techniques and strategies for designing and evolving proteins in the laboratory. While recent advances in high-throughput screening techniques are permitting larger libraries of enzymes to be screened more rapidly, a combination of new genetic tools and computational methods are enabling the efficient application of random mutagenesis targeted to areas of enzyme structures that are more likely to elicit the desired enhancement of their biocatalytic properties. Meanwhile the rational design of enzyme properties, in particular, by computational design is showing great potential. This review article summarises recent and important patents relating to the engineering of enzymes for biocatalysis.
Amino acids are the basic bioelements of proteins, which are the most important macromolecules for the functions of humans and animals. Out of the 20 L-amino acids, ecumenically found in most of living organisms, L-lysine is one of the 9 amino acids which are essential for human and animal nutrition. L-lysine is useful as medicament, chemical agent, food material (food industry) and feed additive (animal food). Its demand has been steadily increasing in recent years and several hundred thousands tones of L-lysine (about 800,000 tones/year) are annually produced worldwide almost by microbial fermentation. The stereospecificity of amino acids (the L isomer) makes the fermentation advantageous compared with synthetic processes. Mutant auxotrophic or resistant to certain chemicals strains of so-called gram positive coryneform bacteria are generally used, including the genera Brevibacterium and Corynebacterium, united to the genus. The significance of Research and Development increased rapidly since the discovery of fermentative amino acid production in the fifties (S. Kinoshita et al., Proceedings of the International Symposium on Enzyme Chemistry 2:464-468 (1957)), leading to innovative fermentation processes which replaced the classical manufacturing methods of L-lysine like acid hydrolysis. L-Lysine is separated and purified by suitable downstream processes involving classical separation or extraction methods (ultrafiltration or centrifugation, separation or ion exchange extraction, crystallization, drying) and is sold as a powder. Alternatively, spray dried pellets or liquid fermentation broth can be used as animal feed supplement. On behalf of todays strong competition in amino acid industry, Biotechnology companies are continuously aiming in innovative research developments and use complex management concepts and business strategies, towards gaining market leadership in the field of amino acid production.
A new biological paradigm, Systems Biology, has emerged with the completion of the Human Genome Project. The Human Genome Project has advanced the view that biological information operates on multiple hierarchical levels and is processed in complex networks. In this paradigm, cumulative knowledge will be used to build models, providing positive externalities to researchers who can use this knowledge to generate new products. As systems biology is likely to become the dominant paradigm in biology, central to the development of medically viable products is ensuring accessibility to systems-based knowledge for multiple researchers. In this paper, we have selected seven systems based on their biological significance including: the Akt (Protein Kinase B), BCR-ABL, GPCR (G-Protein-Coupled Receptor), JAK/STAT (Janus Kinase/Signal Transducers and Activators of Transcription), MAP Kinase, NF-κB (Nuclear Factor Kappa B), and Phospholipase C signaling pathways. For each system we provide a complete list of patents, including categorization and institutional ownership; we also review specific patents for each system from the perspective of type of assignee, breadth of claims, and focus-namely whether the focus of the patent is on upstream knowledge regarding the signaling pathway or downstream on pharmaceutical or biological drug development, screening assays, or diagnostics.
Microbial cells are able to adhere to surfaces and through an exo-polymeric matrix they establish microbial communities known as biofilms. This form of immobilised biomass can be responsible for heat and mass transfer limitations in industrial processes and be a source of contamination and proliferation of infections in water supply systems and medical devices. Several processes to prevent and destroy biofilms in surfaces and tissues have been patented and the new developments are reviewed. Most of the patents propose the use of UV radiation, high temperatures and addition of oxidant compounds to clean surfaces, which may be protected by antimicrobial coatings containing metal ions, non-pathogenic bacteria, timerelease agents and biocides. Several biocidal compositions, comprising mixtures of disinfectants and biocides, are also presented. Mechanical, chemical and enzymatic procedures are discussed and particular emphasis is given to the cleaning and protection of medical devices and water supply systems.
Publications and patents relative to newly observed functions of β-(1,3)-D-glucans have notably increased in the last few years with the exploitation of their biological activities. The term β-(1,3)-D-glucans includes a very large number of polysaccharides from bacterial, fungal and vegetable sources. Their structures have a common backbone of β-(1,3) linked glucopyranosyl residues but the polysaccharidic chain can be β-(1,6) branched with glucose or integrate some β- (1,4) linked glucopyranosyl residues in the main chain. Except for the curdlan, a bacterial linear β-(1,3)-D-glucans, and for the scleroglucan produced by Sclerotium rolfsii, the main drawback limiting the development of these polysaccharides is the lack of efficient processes for their extraction and purification and their cost. However new applications in agronomy, foods, cosmetic and therapeutic could in a next future accentuate the effort of research for their development. So this review focuses on these β-(1,3)-D-glucans with the objective to detail the strategies employed for their extraction and the relation structure-functions identified when they induce biological activities.
Plants are one of the most important resources of human foods and medicines. Rapidly increasing knowledge on nutrition, medicine, and plant biotechnology has dramatically changed the concepts about food, health and agriculture, and brought in a revolution on them. Nutritional therapy and phytotherapy have emerged as new concepts and healing systems have quickly and widely spread in recent years. Strong recommendations for consumption of nutraceuticals, natural plant foods, and the use of nutritional therapy and phytotherapy have become progressively popular to improve health, and to prevent and treat diseases. With these trends, improving the dietary nutritional values of fruits, vegetables and other crops or even bioactive components in folk herbals has become targets of the blooming plant biotechnology industry. This review attempts to display and remark on these aspects. It summarizes the progress made on nutraceuticals, nutritional therapy, phytonutrients, phytotherapy, and their related epidemiological investigations and clinical studies. It also covers markets of these health-promoting products and disease-preventing or healing systems, as well as regulations behind them that direct the development of biotechnology study and application. Finally, related patents are listed and briefly analyzed, regarding of plant biotechnological research and progress on transgenic crops to improve nutritional value, phytotherapy efficiency, or to produce pharmaceutically important secondary metabolites or high-valued protein medicines such as vaccines and antibodies.