Phytowelt News » Innovative research project for sustainable bio-production of allergen-free natural latex and rubber in cell cultures (LaKaZell) has DBU approval

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09/01/2010, Phytowelt Nettetal / Köln

The German Federal Foundation for the Environment (Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt DBU) is promoting the innovative research project LaKaZell in the fifth application round of the ChemBioTec funding initiative.


The German Federal Foundation for the Environment (Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt DBU) is promoting the innovative research project LaKaZell in the fifth application round of the ChemBioTec funding initiative. The aim of ChemBioTec is to put in place new, sustainable bioengineering production processes in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, acting as a beacon for biotechnology and chemical innovations in Germany. The project submitted jointly by a consortium including the University of Münster (WWU), the Technische Universität München (TUM) and Phytowelt GreenTechnologies GmbH (PHY) as small and medium-sized company was accepted for DBU funding thanks to its creative ideas and convincing project planning.
The joint project LaKaZell aims to establish technical scientific requirements and develop suitable processes for the biotechnological manufacture of allergen-free natural latex/rubber and other qualitatively high-value substances and reusable materials in Laticifer cell cultures thereby satisfying current demands in industrial production for established procedures to be replaced by sustainable and environmentally friendly processes that meet market needs.
The main source for manufacture of natural latex/rubber is currently Hevea brasiliensis, use of which is being constantly restricted, particularly in medicine, because of its potent allergenic characteristics. Synthetic rubber is not suitable as a full substitute because of its chemical properties. Production processes for latex/rubber using cell cultures of the Russian dandelion (T. koksaghyz) provide an alternative, giving a latex/rubber that demonstrably does not cause allergic reactions. The working group around Prof. Prüfer from the Institute of Plant Biochemistry and Biotechnology of the University of Münster is pioneering in this area. "In the last few years, we have successfully carried out and published basic research to further understanding of the production of latex/rubber in the dandelion", says Prof. Prüfer. "The aim of LaKaZell is now closed production of latex and rubber from contained cell cultures for special applications. We are particularly interested in the sustainability and competitiveness of the process. That is why the process is undergoing eco-efficiency analysis at the same time".
Modern bio-analytical processes from Dr. Eisenreich's working group at the Technische Universität München will play a key role in achieving such ambitious goals. "Labelling experiments with stable isotopes will show us the metabolic pathways from simple, renewable carbon sources to a valuable product like latex", says Dr. Eisenreich. These findings are being used to optimise the production process just as key enzymes – identified and exploited by the phytomining platform technology from Phytowelt GreenTechnologies – are being used in rubber synthesis. "Our innovative phytomining process, already used successfully in a number of projects for partners to improve fine chemical and pharmaceutical agent syntheses, will also prove its utility and superior efficiency here in identifying new enzyme activities and the associated genes", says Dr. Welters (CEO PHY). "Our expertise in terpenoid biosynthesis from various projects with mint or to biosynthesise carotenoids are an excellent basis from which to build our knowledge in this field, introduce further innovations and continue our commercial success".
LaKaZell aims to substitute conventional industrial production processes by developing innovative processes in plant biotechnology leading to further development of environmentally friendly biotechnological processes in closed systems.


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