Marine Biopolymers Limited and Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences (SIPBS): Development of high-value compounds from Bacillus licheniformis

Name: Marine Biopolymers Limited and Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences 

Date: Start date 01.11.17 End date 28.2.2018

Purpose: IBCarb IB Seeding Catalyst Awards

Description: Development of high-value compounds from Bacillus licheniformis


Business Challenge

Marine Biopolymers Limited isolated a microorganism with promising pharmaceutical uses from macroalgae. Isolated during the FP7 SeaBioTech project led by SIPBS, the organism was found to produce bioactive exopolysaccharides (EPS) with consistent responses in pain, inflammation and diabetes assays. Challenges arose during attempts to produce the final crude product at high concentration, and so the aims of the study were to assess the nutrients and conditions required for optimal growth and EPS yields whilst confirming the presence of bioactivity in the optimised product.


To identify the best nutrients for optimal growth, rapid screening of over 300 chemicals was carried out. Use of the Omnilog, along with help from IBioIC’s technical experts, allowed MBL to determine the most promising potential media ingredients for growth and EPS production, whilst considering the impact that changes may have to downstream processing and the economic cost of future scale-up.  Two media were developed, in addition to the control medium, and the fermentation was carried out in triplicate in 8 parallel bioreactors of 1L.
Daily samples were collected to establish the bioactivity of the crude product produced in the different media types against various cell lines. Using a metabolomics approach that has been already established by the Edrada-Ebel research group at SIPBS, analytical tests were conducted on each sample for confirmation of product, purity, and bioactivity.


Various metabolites were produced in three different media. Media type 2 afforded promising preliminary results for bioactive extracts on the neurodegenerative cell line SHSY5Y, providing more than 60% cell protection. In addition, the production of a neurodegenerative active O-acetylated high MW EPS was attained at 48 hours.

The project has been successful in producing bioactive exopolysaccharides.
Further work is required in optimising the fermentation conditions and confirming these preliminary results, prior to scale up.


The study of neurodegenerative active compounds has been of great importance in the search for new potential drugs in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and the produced compounds show promise in this area.
MBL and SIPBS will have a joint 8-week MSc project during the summer, to investigate the growth of the organism in bioreactors, establish the growth curve and confirm the presence of the O-acetylated EPS and its yield. Further structure elucidation work will also be accomplished during this period.