Last week was an unusually celebratory one, in that I attended a number of functions that involved celebrations of UK and more general scientific endeavours. One function, including a flash-bang pyrotechnic display and sponsored by the Royal Society of Chemistry, was arranged at the House of Commons to celebrate the launch of the International Year of Chemistry. Another at the University of Manchester celebrated the award of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics to Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov, while on Tuesday I attended the launch of the astonishingly comprehensive and authoritative Global Food and Farming Futures Foresight report. I also attended the annual celebration of the BioIndustry Association, also attended by the winners of the Biotechnology YES competition that we co-sponsor.
In addition we had a substantial meeting of our Institute Directors and their Deputy Directors of Operations.
A couple of papers attracted my notice. One was an article describing a process for the biological production of isoprene from sugar. Using modern methods of metabolic engineering, it had proved possible in just 2 years to produce a process yield 60 g.L-1 of product, that is intended to replace all the isoprene made in tyres produced by Goodyear. Another was a very interesting paper on Histone Deacetylase inhibitors that worked only on complexes and not on the isolated proteins that they contained, a salutary tale for those seeking purified molecular targets in vitro.
Finally, I draw attention to some very nice visualisations of the extent of scientific collaborations between geographically distant participants.
- Bantscheff M, et al. Chemoproteomics profiling of HDAC inhibitors reveals selective targeting of HDAC complexes. Nat Biotechnol, 2011.
- Whited, G. M. et al. Development of a gas-phase bioprocess for isoprene-monomer production using metabolic pathway engineering. Industrial Biotechnology. 2010, 6(3): 152-163