BioCity Nottingham is one of Europe's largest bioscience incubators. Somewhat startlingly, it is home to some 70 companies, the majority being technology based, which collectively emply some 600 people. Some of the companies are right at the very forefront of biological research - and here are some examples that have caught the imagination of NSB :
Founded by Professor Steve Howdle (who holds a Chair of Chemistry at The University of Nottingham and has published over 250 papers, filed 10 patents, and received numerous awards), the company is based on his discovery that certain certain (biocompatible and biodegradable) polymers can be liquefied in the presence of pressurised “supercritical” carbon dioxide at near ambient temperatures. In this condition almost any substance (such as a drug or protein) can be mixed in. When the pressure is released, the polymers solidify around the substance. When put inside the body the polymer slowly degrades, releasing the substance in a controlled manner as it does so.
Clever, clever stuff.
|All you need to get supercritical CO2 is about 90 atmospheres of pressure. . .|
After four years development, Naturally Scientific has created a two stage bio-manufacturing platform. The first stage combines waste CO2, water and light are combined in a photosynthetic reaction to produce sugars. These sugars can be sold or used in a second stage to produce pure vegetable oils and their derivatives. A fully operational demonstration plant is now producing both sugars and oils right here in Nottingham. Should you be interested, and NSB certainly was, you can read their patent here.
|In reality it is a LOT more complicated than this. . .|
Based on research by Prof Alan Windle, FRS in the University of Cambridge, Q-Flo is developing a process to make yarns of carbon nanotubes. According to a 2010 report in the Engineer, the company has signed a deal to commercialise the technology for use in body armour and composite motor vehicle bodies. The report describes how the nanotubes are grown on tiny iron catalysts that float around a reactor. These are then collected and “wound up” into a continuous fibre.
|Having signed up for the Marines, the Invisible Man found that he was actually quite easy to spot. . .|
The vision of this company is to provide the technologies that will allow them to “revolutionize healthcare by providing permanent replacements for damaged or diseased tissues in unlimited supply”. In particular, RegenTec has developed a series of injectable “scaffolds” that damaged tissues can regenerate around.
The company is a spin-off from research undertaken by Professor Kevin Shakesheff’s and his team and the University of Nottingham and has featured in a number of media reports, such as this.
|RegenTec's "liquid bone" technology, yesterday|