Production of vaccine adjuvants in genetically modified yeast

 Supervisor Birgitta E. Ebert (

Adjuvants constitute an important vaccine component as they tremendously boost efficacy by stimulating the immune system's response to the target antigen. Plant saponins are very potent adjuvants and extensively used in development and deployment of vaccines. A major issue facing their utilization is the increasing constraint on plant material supply from which mixtures of saponins are extracted. This project intends to overcome material shortage by investigating the biosynthesis of saponins in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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Brewing natural products with yeast

 Supervisor Birgitta E. Ebert (

The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is widely used in fermentation to produce wine, beer, and bioethanol. However, this microbe can also be efficiently engineered to produce complex natural products. Well-known examples are the anti-malaria drug artemisinin are the anti-cancer drug paclitaxel. In this project, we are interested in the production of triterpenoids, the largest group in the natural product class. Many of these molecules have biological activities that make them promising candidates for pharma, nutraceutical, or cosme(ceu)tical applications. We have engineered a superior S. cerevisiae platform strain capable of the synthesis of diverse triterpenoids at the gram-scale level. In this project, we aim to expand the product spectrum to α-amyrin type triterpenoids with anti-ageing and anti-obesity properties that are investigated for use in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

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Group Leader:  Professor Gary Schenk
   07 336 54144

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