Huntsville, Ala. — HudsonAlpha associate company iXpressGenes has received a $100,000 Department of Defense Small Business Innovation grant to analyze environmental DNA in search of novel antibiotics.
iXpressGenes is a synthetic biology company that specializes in protein services and instrumentation, and protein and genetic engineering research.
Using next generation sequencing technology at the HudsonAlpha Genomic Services Lab, researchers will study environmental DNA samples from extreme cold, acidic and alkaline environments in hopes of finding unique metabolic pathways. Such pathways could produce new classes of antibiotics that can be used to fight against biological warfare agents (BWAs) such as anthrax; and multidrug resistant (MDR) pathogens, also known as “superbugs.”
“New antibiotics are desperately needed against multidrug resistant pathogens, which are killing approximately 20,000 Americans per year,” said Joseph Ng, PhD, president of iXpressGenes. “Also, these drugs are in high demand to protect warfighters who face threats from BWAs and patients who suffer from increased bacterial resistance to existing antibiotics.”
iXpressGenes is collaborating with Mark Liles, PhD, from Auburn University; and HudsonAlpha Genomic Services Lab director Shawn Levy, PhD.
AJ Singhal, research associate at iXpressGenes, said this project demonstrates HudsonAlpha’s collaborative culture and dynamic economic development arm.
“By combining Dr. Liles’ experience in bacterial pathway cloning/expression, Dr. Levy’s high-quality sequencing technology, and iXpressGenes’ extremophile protein and synthetic biology expertise, this project could lead to novel therapeutics,” said Singhal, “as well as valuable enzymes for the food industry, fuel cells and biosensors.”
“When HudsonAlpha labs and associate companies come together, we are able to accelerate laboratory research into real-world applications,” said Carter Wells, vice president for economic development at HudsonAlpha. “This culture of collaboration is what makes HudsonAlpha one of the most cutting-edge genomic centers in the nation.”
About HudsonAlpha: HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology is a nonprofit institute dedicated to innovating in the field of genomic technology and sciences across a spectrum of biological challenges. Founded in 2008, its mission is four-fold: sparking scientific discoveries that can impact human health and well-being; bringing genomic medicine into clinical care; fostering life sciences entrepreneurship and business growth; and encouraging the creation of a genomics-literate workforce and society. The HudsonAlpha biotechnology campus consists of 152 acres nestled within Cummings Research Park, the nation’s second largest research park. Designed to be a hothouse of biotech economic development, HudsonAlpha’s state-of-the-art facilities co-locate nonprofit scientific researchers with entrepreneurs and educators. The relationships formed on the HudsonAlpha campus encourage collaborations that produce advances in medicine and agriculture. Under the leadership of Dr. Richard M. Myers, a key collaborator on the Human Genome Project, HudsonAlpha has become a national and international leader in genetics and genomics research and biotech education, and includes 30 diverse biotech companies on campus. To learn more about HudsonAlpha, visit: http://hudsonalpha.org/.
About iXpress: iXpressGenes is a synthetic biology company located at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology. Our company specializes in protein services and instrumentation, and protein and genetic engineering research. We support commercial, institutional and academic organizations. We have a special background in extremozymes, microgravity and trace fluorescent labeling. iXpressGenes has exclusive access to a suite of hyperthermophilic genomes from the deep sea vents of the Atlantic Ridge. Proteins and enzymes from these genomes have special qualities that are useful in engineering and metabolic reactions. Our team has deep experience in microgravity, having conducted several experiments on the International Space Station. These experiments have led us to diffraction studies in both X ray and neutron beam. Years of research in protein crystallization led us to a new technique that is highly effective in finding and discerning leads – trace fluorescent labeling. Our disciplines are in biochemistry, structural genomics and instrumentation.