Company initiatives, Investments, Products

Amyris expands into biopharma

Maybe biopharma is a better bet these days than industrial renewable chemicals (especially drop-ins) with Codexis seems to be thriving on its new biopharma ground after leaving the biofuels and renewable chems market, and Amyris recently launched its”uPharm (microPharm) Discovery and Production platform.

Amyris’s new platform provides the pharmaceutical industry with an integrated discovery and production process for therapeutic compounds for which a natural source is scarce or unavailable, or for which chemical synthesis is not cost-effective. Amyris’s roots actually goes back to when it created a strain for cost-effective production of anti-malarial drug precursor, artemisinic acid.

The uPharm platform is founded on Amyris’s proprietary technologies for microbial strain engineering including a set of automated multiplex genome editing tools for high efficiency installation and optimization of biosynthetic pathways; high throughput screening capabilities for identification of strains; and industrial-scale fermentation and recovery infrastructure.

Amyris is planning one or two new collaborations in Biopharma this year. This month, the company has entered a collaboration agreement with synthetic biology platform company, Genome Compiler Corp., to integrate Amyris’s automated lab services with Genome Compiler’s online design tools and e-commerce platform to enable users to design and order DNA or other biological products seamlessly.

Late last month, Amyris reported its 4Q and year-end 2014 results. The company said renewable product sales were up by about 50% year-on-year. It reported record-low farnesene cash production runs below $2.50/liter due to robust strain performance and continued operational improvements at its biorefinery in Brotas, Brazil. Amyris upgraded its Brotas plant, which it said allowed the company to reduce production costs in 2015.

Amyris farnesene production facility in Brazil

Amyris farnesene production facility in Brazil


The company has introduced products such as its new emollient Neossance line and Myralene solvent for industrial cleaning. It’s total revenue for Q4 2014 was lower than expected at $11.6 million compared to $15.4 million in the same period in 2013 due in part to timing of cash inflows associated with collaboration and grant revenues milestone achieved in late 2014 but received in early 2015.

However, total revenues for 2014 was up 5% to $43.3 million compared in 2013. Amyris’s quarter-end cash, cash equivalents and short-term investment balance was $43.4 million. Last month, the company said it has entered into a common stock purchase agreement where Amyris may, from time to time, sell up to $50 million of its common stock to Nomis Bay Ltd. over a 24-month period.

About Doris de Guzman

Will Green Chemistry save the world or is it hype? Doris de Guzman examines alternative processing, new technology, R&D and other sustainability initiatives aimed at preventing pollution; replacing ingredients; and using renewable feedstocks in Green Chemistry. She has been covering the oleochemicals market for 15 years and spread her beat to inorganics, biofuels and green chemistry.


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