UCL Department of Biochemical Engineering


Phenotypeca win funding for feasibility study from Vax Hub

2 December 2020

Phenotypeca Ltd, in partnership with The Jenner Institute, has been awarded funding from the Future Vaccine Manufacturing Research Hub to conduct a feasibility study to exploit the genetic diversity of baker’s yeast to optimise virus-like particles (VLPs) for vaccine production.

Vax Hub and Phenotypeca logos


Vax-Hub launched a call for feasibility study proposals earlier this year. Following a stringent review process, Phenotypeca is one of only seven applicants who were selected for funding. Phenotypeca will work in close collaboration with the University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute to improve the production of virus-like particles (VLPs) for vaccines from baker’s yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, for sustainable manufacturing in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Phenotypeca’s genetically diverse yeast libraries contain up to a billion distinct progeny and all are specifically modified for industrial recombinant protein production. As part of this feasibility study, these will be screened for cost-effective manufacture of hepatitis B, human papilloma virus and phage VLPs. This study will also develop workflows for improved production of other VLPs.

The candidate VLPs were selected in close collaboration with Oxford’s Jenner Institute, representing a variety of VLP types with potential for different applications. Industrial technology, proven to be safe for first-generation vaccine manufacture, will be combined with ultra-high throughput screening and advanced genomics to develop improved production strains for LMICs.

Dr Chris Finnis, Phenotypeca’s Founder and Research Director comments on the importance of this opportunity: “This is a fantastic opportunity to apply our diverse yeast libraries for the benefit of LMICs and to produce cost effective vaccines of the future. We are delighted to continue our fruitful collaboration with the outstanding team of scientists at Oxford’s Jenner Institute.”

This study is a testament to Phenotypeca’s ongoing commitment to improving access to life-saving medicines and promoting sustainable manufacturing using baker’s yeast as the microbial cell factory. Phenotypeca Ltd is a synthetic biology company that combines yeast genomics technology developed by Professor Ed Louis, initially at the University of Nottingham and then in Leicester, with manufacturing expertise from the biopharmaceutical industry. Phenotypeca is a member of Vax-Hub and has also received Innovate UK funding to optimise biologics production processes for cost reduction and improved access to other medicines.

About Phenotypeca

Phenotypeca is a synthetic biology company with research facilities at the University of Nottingham’s Biodiscovery Institute, specialising in rapid yeast strain optimisation for bioprocessing industries.
Phenotypeca’s offices are located in BioCity, the bioscience incubator, in central Nottingham.

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