Collaboration between BRAIN Biotech and AMSilk: Protein engineering successfully improves structural proteins for performance materials

5 March, 24
BRAIN Biotech AG, leading provider of solutions for the biologization of industry, and AMSilk GmbH, a global leader in advanced materials made from spider silk-based proteins, announce the successful completion of the first phase of a development collaboration.

BRAIN Biotech AG, leading provider of solutions for the biologization of industry, and AMSilk GmbH, a global leader in advanced materials made from spider silk-based proteins, announce the successful completion of the first phase of a development collaboration. After a year of working together, they have specifically optimized a natural structural protein and subsequently registered the first PCT patent (“Patent Cooperation Treaty”) for this process.

The aim of the collaboration is to advance the development of high-performance protein-based fibers for the performance materials market, with the specific properties of these structural proteins being optimized for various high-performance fields of application in the textile sector. In addition to the economic dimension, both companies pursue a common strategic goal: of building a more sustainable future through bio-based solutions in the textile industry.

AMSilk has developed a wide range of use cases for its spider silk-based proteins, from developing the leading spinning process for silk protein fibers, to transforming proteins into silk beads, gels and solutions to unlock the power of their coating effects. Due to its unique combination of strength and flexibility, spider silk is the gold standard of bioindustrial materials. AMSilk’s recombinant proteins are wholly biodegradable, can be fully recycled and contain no traces of microplastics. AMSilk’s silk protein-based fibers set completely new standards within the apparel industry. They offer extremely broad performance characteristics and are also a high-quality alternative with low CO2 consumption compared to other natural or fossil-based materials.

The structural proteins underlying AMSilk’s protein fibers can be modified at the amino acid level using BRAIN Biotech’s technologies so that the products can be tailored to specific market requirements.

The success of this strategic R&D collaboration is based on the use of BRAIN Biotech’s rational design in protein engineering. Using this technology, BRAIN Biotech has built a successful track record over many years in the enzyme technology unit at Zwingenberg. BRAIN Biotech had already successfully used its protein engineering strategy in the development of a variety of protein and enzyme products in order to tailor them for industrial applications. In addition to AMSilk’s scientific expertise in the field of spider silk-based proteins, AMSilk also contributes an understanding of customer and market requirements. The results of the collaboration that have now been achieved show once again that the applied scientific strategy can lead to completely new products.

Dr. Alexander Pelzer, Head of Research & Development at BRAIN Biotech at the Zwingenberg site, emphasizes: “Our successful rational protein engineering is based on the combination of two factors: the experience of our team – in conjunction with sequencing and structure-based bioinformatics methods, including AI predictions. The strategic R&D partnership with AMSilk is an excellent example of the power of our protein engineering pipeline.”

Pelzer cites powerful bioinformatics including the various AI approaches used by the experienced protein engineering experts at BRAIN Biotech as the basis for protein engineering, tailoring their approach to each specific inquiry. Drawing on the profound experience of their team, suggested optimizations are then implemented using molecular biology and tested in the laboratory. After successfully producing and characterizing these structural proteins on a milliliter scale, BRAIN Biotech scales up the top candidates in a fermenter on a liter scale, making them available to AMSilk for application testing.

Alexander Pelzer adds: “Many of the protein fibers that we have designed and manufactured at BRAIN Biotech showed greatly improved properties in real applications. We are very pleased that once again we have been able to contribute to the success of a customer – in this case AMSilk.”

Gudrun Vogtentanz, Chief Scientific Officer at AMSilk, says about the cooperation: “Together with BRAIN Biotech, we are bringing tailor-made material solutions to the market that not only meet the needs of customers but are sustainable. This will enable us to revolutionize the performance materials market in the long term, which is currently dominated by fossil-based textiles. With their years of protein engineering expertise and with our common vision, BRAIN Biotech is an ideal fit as a development partner.”

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