Recent Patents on Biotechnology (v.9, #1)

Meet Our Co-Editor: by Nikolaos Labrou (1-2).

Preface: by Nikolaos E. Labrou (3-3).

Ubiquitous conventional plastics, generally manufactured from finite, nonsustainable fossil fuels are non-biodegradable wonder entities but their ill effect on Mother Nature has subsequently raised major environmental concerns like their safe disposal, solid waste management and several potential hazards. Such concerns have fuelled initiatives for research globally towards development of sustainable and eco-friendly bioplastics. The new generation of plastics called 'bioplastics' are polymers of long chain of repeating monomer units that are classified as photodegradable, semi-biodegradable, chemically synthesized and polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs). The commonly emerged novel bioplastics are polyesters of hydroxyalkanoates (HAs) called PHAs, which are lipoidic storage materials found in the cytosol of vast and diverse forms of bacteria. Among 150 different PHAs known so far, poly- 3-hydroxybutyrate is the most common and comprehensively characterized PHA. Interestingly, PHAs are only completely biodegradable plastics with material properties comparable to conventional plastics that can be achieved by regulating the co-monomers incorporation into PHAs backbone. PHA bioplastics are exploited in the form of user-friendly goods viz. films, absorbable sutures, bone plates, drug carriers, etc. Besides advantages, such useful entity(s) has major shortcomings as well like high production cost compared to conventional plastics. Precisely, in PHAs production, about fifty percent of the overall price is due to the carbon substrates. Consequently, exploring novel cost-effective substrates is a major compulsion for successful commercialization of this bioplastic, which is anticipated to reduce the cost of production as a result of advancing and intensifying research work. This review presents an insight and patent developments in the field of PHAs bioplastics.

The Tendon Approximator Device in Traumatic Injuries by Kamal S. Forootan, Hamid Karimi, Nazilla-Sadat S. Forootan (22-29).
Background: Precise and tension-free approximation of two tendon endings is the key predictor of outcomes following tendon lacerations and repairs. We evaluate the efficacy of a new tendon approximator device in tendon laceration repairs. Materials & Methods: In a comparative study, we used our new tendon approximator device in 99 consecutive patients with laceration of 266 tendons who attend a university hospital and evaluated the operative time to repair the tendons, surgeons' satisfaction as well as patient's outcomes in a long-term follow-up. Data were compared with the data of control patients undergoing tendon repair by conventional method. Results: Totally 266 tendons were repaired by approximator device and 199 tendons by conventional technique. 78.7% of patients in first group were male and 21.2% were female. In approximator group 38% of patients had secondary repair of cut tendons and 62% had primary repair. Patients were followed for a mean period of 3years (14-60 months). Time required for repair of each tendon was significantly reduced with the approximator device (2 min vs. 5.5 min, p<0.0001). After 3-4 weeks of immobilization, passive and active physiotherapy was started. Functional Results of tendon repair were identical in the two groups and were not significantly different. 1% of tendons in group A and 1.2% in group B had rupture that was not significantly different. Discussion: The new nerve approximator device is cheap, feasible to use and reduces the time of tendon repair with sustained outcomes comparable to the conventional methods.

A Review of Recent Patents on the ASICs as a Key Drug Target by Priscila L. Santos, Adriana G. Guimaraes, Rosana S.S. Barreto, Mairim R. Serafini, Jullyana S.S. Quintans, Lucindo J. Quintans-Junior (30-41).
Acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs) are scattered various cells of human body. Drugs like amiloride has demonstrated nonspecific antagonism ASICs. Toxins, such as Psalmotoxin-1, have been used in animal models. There are no drugs available in the market whose action mechanism acts through these channels. We revised all patents relating to pharmaceutical formulations of applicability in ASICs. Drugs acting as antagonist in ASIC1 or ASIC3 channels seem to be the most promising targets. Patent data have suggested a variety of approaches for selective ASICs drugs, such as neuroprotective and analgesic. Studies analysis suggested that ASICs are promising targets for new drugs.

Bioprospecting of Brevibacillus brevis Isolated from Soil by Antony V. Samrot, Rejin J.J. Prasad, Antony J. Rio, Sahaya J. Sneha (42-49).
It is obviously essential to find new compounds that possess industrial and medicinal importance and potential to improve the lifestyle of human population. Bioprospecting these compounds from natural resources has additional benefits since they are less toxic as well as biocompatible. In this study, Brevibacillus brevis was isolated from soil and its enzymes production, antibacterial activity and anticancer activity were assessed. The organism was found to be a promising source of amylase enzymes, antibacterial as well as anticancer compounds.

Background: Worldwide nowadays, relying on the second generation bioethanol from the lignocellulosic feedstock is a mandatory aim. However, one of the major drawbacks for high ethanol yield is the physical and chemical pretreatment of this kind of feedstock. As the pretreatment is a crucial process operation that modifies the lignocellulosic structure and enhances its accessibility for the high cost hydrolytic enzymes in an attempt to maximize the yield of the fermentable sugars. The objective of this work was to optimize and integrate a physicochemical pretreatment of one of the major agricultural wastes in Egypt; the sugar beet pulp (SBP) and the enzymatic saccharification of the pretreated SBP using a whole fungal cells with a separate bioethanol fermentation batch processes to maximize the bioethanol yield. Methods and results: The response surface methodology was employed in this study to statistically evaluate and optimize the conditions for a thermal acid pretreatment of SBP. The significance and the interaction effects of the concentrations of HCl and SBP and the reaction temperature and time were studied using a three-level central composite design of experiments. A quadratic model equation was obtained to maximize the production of the total reducing sugars. The validity of the predicted model was confirmed. The thermally acid pretreated SBP was further subjected to a solid state fermentation batch process using Trichoderma viride F94. The thermal acid pretreatment and fungal hydrolyzes were integrated with two parallel batch fermentation processes of the produced hydrolyzates using Saccharomyces cerevisiae Y39, that yielded a total of ? 48 g/L bioethanol, at a conversion rate of ? 0.32 g bioethanol/ g SBP. Conclusion: Applying the proposed integrated process, approximately 97.5 gallon of ethanol would be produced from a ton (dry weight) of SBP.

An effort was made after detailed literature survey and few experiments, conducted at Laboratory conditions about the VAM fungus inoculated plants; they have large surface area and more photosynthetic rate, can assimilate more CO2, even can grow in drought condition including water deficiency and high temperature. For this purpose, a greenhouse pot experiment was conducted in which soil manifested with fungi was used and Conocarpus erectus L (common on green belt of Karachi Streets) was selected for testing the fungal engineering. Results demonstrated a well-developed strong roots system and branching pattern of shoots rather than larger surface area of leaves of the fungal engineered plant when compared with non-treated ones. The long root system indicates the stability of plant and water transport system in high temperature and low water conditions. While increased branching pattern of areal part may be directly related to an increase in net photosynthetic rates or increase CO2 absorption in the fungal inoculated plants. This investigation showed an interesting use of VAM services for technology development of root organ culture development in areas of low water availability and high temperature condition with elevated concentration of CO2. A mechanism of absorption of CO2 related with the alteration in plant bio-physical metabolism is discussed in relation with phosphorus uptake under VAM inoculation.