The blog is usually not familiar with the type of microorganisms that industrial biotechnology companies use for their fermentation processes but I was intrigued about this Deinococcus bacterium that is being developed and promoted by France-based start-up biotech company Deinove.
The company claimed to be the only one in the world to design and develop a new generation of industrial processes based on this bacterium, which is said to have exceptional properties such as high resistance to numerous kind of stresses; ability to integrate large fragments of DNA from bacteria, fungi and even plants in a highly stable manner; having the ability to manufacture rare compounds such as carotenoids, antibiotics, enzymes, antifungals from biomass; and the ability to co-digest several sugars.
By the end of 2012, Deinove reportedly developed a strain that can transform wheat residue into ethanol without using additives. The new process called DEINOL has said to have reached its proof of concept. The company claimed that it can also use other non-food biomass such as wheat straw, corn stover and cobs, energy crops, and industrial and urban wastes. Deinove said it has been able to build a Deinococcus library of more than 6,000 strains, the largest collection of Deinococci in the world.
Under the company’s DEINOCHEM programme, which aims to produce a new generation of Deinococcus-based chemical compounds as substitutes to traditional petro-based chemicals, Deinove’s initial target is production of three broad categories of isoprenoid compounds such as carotenoids; aromatic compounds such as linalool, geraniol, myrcene, limonene or lycopene; and isoprene. The isoprenoid project was launched in 2010 and approved by the cluster IAR (Industries and AgroResources) in 2011.
Carotenoids is expected to be the first target with commercial development within 2-3 years because it is easy to develop, according to Deinove CEO, Emmanuel Petiot. Carotenoids are used in food and animal feed as antioxidants, and also in opthalmology. The company has a lab scale production capability of about 1.7g/liter/hour at its facility in Montpellier.
In September 2013, Deinove’s DEINOCHEM project was granted with a funding of EUR 5.9 million from the French Environment and Energy Management Agency, Ademe, and the CGI – General Investment Commission in a form of repayable advances under the terms of a 3.5 year program. The funding is said to be one of the highest levels of financial backing granted in plant chemistry from the French government.
This month, Deinove has signed a license option agreement with Genoplante Valor via INRA Transfert, a research enhancement subsidiary of the French National Institute in Agronomic Research, that will cover the improvement of isoprenoid biosynthetic pathway. This intellectual property has been generated as part of an ANR (National Research Agency) Genomics research program called “Genoplante”. Denoive is expected to implement this technology in the DEINOCHEM program to strenghten the Deinococcus bacterium’s capacity to produce bio-based chemicals.
The company’s business model is to license its technology and has been currently working on several partnerships across the supply chain, from agro-industrial groups to major chemical companies and cosmetic/consumer products companies. Petiot mentioned the French agribusiness company Tereos as one of its historical partners.
The company is currently listed in the Paris Alternext stock exchange.