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Innovation Award for Enzyme Search Engine at World's Largest Pharmaceutical Exhibition

The research center acib wins Innovation Award at the world’s largest pharmaceutical and chemical exhibition CPHI 2014 with a computer search engine that discovers yet unknown enzyme functions. This enables new production methods in industry.

VIENNA, AUSTRIA, October 21, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ — Once a year, the chemical and pharmaceutical industry meets on a fair of superlatives – the “CPHI worldwide.” This year the fair took place November 7 to 9 in Paris. The numbers speak for themselves: 35,000 visitors from 2,500 companies and more than 140 countries joined the event. Since 2012 the Austrian Centre of Industrial Biotechnology (acib) is present at the Austrian booth at the CPHI. This year acib won the CPHI-Pharma Award for the best innovation in process development.

The awarded project is about a search engine a la Google. However, the acib search engine with the name “Catalophor” does not search directly within the “World Wide Web”, but in a database created in the project. This database actually contains structural data of more than 100,000 proteins and is continually expanding, says acib researcher Georg Steinkellner. The result of every search is an enzyme that can solve a particular task, e. g. it can produce a specific molecule that is extremely valuable for the pharmaceutical or chemical industry. The search on the computer saves countless experiments. “We can also discover new enzyme functions and pathways that are so far hidden”, explains acib structural biologist Christian Gruber, who together with Steinkellner and Prof. Karl Gruber of the University of Graz now further optimizes the system.

The award-winning method has been filed for a patent and was published this year in Nature Communications:

The Austrian Centre of Industrial Biotechnology (acib) is an international Research Centre for Industrial Biotechnology with locations in Austria, Germany, Italy and Spain. Using the concepts of nature, acib-scientists replace traditional industrial methods with new, more economic and ecological technologies.

As a research center of excellence, acib is an international partnership of currently 80+ international universities and industry partners, including renowned companies such as BASF, DSM, Sandoz, Boehringer Ingelheim, Jungbunzlauer, F. Hoffmann-La Roche, Novartis, VTU Technology or Sigma Aldrich. Owners are the Universities of Innsbruck and Graz, Graz University of Technology, the University of Natural Resources, Vienna and Joanneum Research.

At acib, 200+ scientific employees work in more than 40 research projects. The competence center acib is sponsored within COMET (Austrian Competence Centres for Excellent Technologies) by the BMVIT, BMWFW and the provinces of Styria, Tyrol and Vienna. The COMET program is handled by the FFG. The EU funds additional projects such as CHEM21.

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