|Codexis uses its MolecularBreeding platform for directed molecular evolution to produce biocatalysts. Click to enlarge.|
Shell Oil Products US, a subsidiary of Shell Oil Company, and Codexis Inc., a privately held biotechnology company, will collaborate to explore enhanced methods of converting biomass to biofuels. Terms of the newly announced agreement were not disclosed.
Codexis is a developer of biocatalytic chemical technologies for pharmaceutical, industrial chemical and energy applications. In 2005, Codexis and Cargill announced a major breakthrough in developing a novel microbial process to convert corn sugar to a specific chemical intermediate that could lead to the development of a new renewable chemical platform that could eventually replace some petroleum-based products. (Earlier post.)
Our proven biocatalytic approach should provide the critical pathway to developing economically feasible alternative transportation fuels from renewable resources.—Alan Shaw, Ph.D., Codexis President and CEO
Codexis’s uses proprietary technology for directed evolution and strain development to rapidly generate novel biological catalysts. These catalysts fall into two categories: enzymes and fermentation strains.
The Codexis directed evolution platform (“MolecularBreeding”) uses DNA shuffling to generate a library of novel genes or genomes via recombination of selected starting or parental genes or genomes.
Codexis then screens the encoded library of novel enzymes or strains for those possessing desirable and improved properties and repeats the process until the resulting enzymes or strains meet or exceed the desired efficiency benchmark.
Codexis claims that its shuffling process is dramatically faster than conventional cell genetics techniques and can increase product development speed by several orders of magnitude. Patents in its intellectual property portfolio cover molecular biology methods for generating the gene libraries (gene shuffling) and strain variants (genome shuffling) as well as methods for expressing the enzyme variants and screening them at a high throughput.
Shell has been involved in developing biofuels for more than 30 years, and believes it is the world’s largest distributor of transport biofuels today. The company sold nearly 800 million gallons (3 billion liters) of biofuel in 2005, mostly in the United States and Brazil. Shell also markets fuels containing biocomponents in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, the Philippines, Sweden and Thailand.