10.08.2016

Hugo Gramajo: "It is possible to use bacteria as small factories of bio-lubricants"

The researcher was awarded the Jorge Sabato 2015 prize for his work with genetically modified bacteria for sustainable production of compounds of biotechnological interest.

Hugo Gramajo: "It is possible to use bacteria as small factories of bio-lubricants"

Hugo Gramajo. Photo: courtesy IBR.

Drugs, chemical intermediates and medicines can now be produced from genetically modified yeasts and bacteria. Genes coding for proteins or molecules involved and the yeast or bacteria synthesize inserted into the genome of these organisms. Today these techniques are used, for example, to produce insulin - which was previously obtained from the pancreas of pigs -, new anticancer, antibiotics and other molecules used by different industries.

"Our laboratory focuses on the use of bacteria for sustainable production of proteins and bioactive compounds that are used in the food, pharmaceutical, cosmetics and some with potential use in the development of new bio-lubricants agents," he says.

"Our laboratory focuses on the use of bacteria for sustainable production of proteins and bioactive compounds that are used in food, pharmaceutical, cosmetics industries and some with potential use in the development of new bio-lubricants agents," says Gramajo.

Hugo Gramajo, main investigator of CONICET at the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology of Rosario (IBR, CONICET-UNR) and professor at the Faculty of Biochemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences of the National University of Rosario, was awarded the Jorge Sabato 2015 award, awarded by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation researchers highlighted in transfer and technological developments with economic and productive impact on critical sectors for the country's growth.

Which were the first investigations that aimed at technological development in your lab?

The first project with biotechnological application was the development of a novel process that yielded by using classical genetics, metabolic engineering and recombinant DNA methodology, a bacterium capable of producing chymosin enzyme, which is found naturally in the fourth stomach calves and is widely used in the cheese industry. This process was innovative and economically viable so it was successfully transferred to a biotechnology-based company.

How did these developments continue in the research?

In a second stage, we are dedicated to handling a type of bacteria that was very "friendly" genetically, as is Escherichia coli that can synthesize the antibiotic erythromycin, which is naturally produced by another bacteria. The most novel aspect of this development was the one who laid the foundation for this system to be used by a biotechnology company in the United States as one of its platforms for genetic modification and production of various chemically related to erythromycin compounds, but with new antibiotic properties or anticarcinogenic.

Which are your current lines of work related to the new technology developments?

At the moment we are committed to the production of new molecules of lipid origin that are not normally found in nature and have new physicochemical properties of interest for different industries related to bio-lubricants.

Source: Jimena Zoni. IBR - CONICET.

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Hugo Gramajo. Photo: courtesy IBR.

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