AMSilk and BRAIN Biotech: A smart protein design leads to a patent

AMSilk and BRAIN Biotech: A smart protein design leads to a patent

The biotech companies AMSilk and BRAIN Biotech are announcing their first successes as part of their research and development alliance, which has only been running for a year: the optimization of a structural protein using computer-aided design and the patent application for the process.

Spinnen von AMSilks Seidenprotein
The biotechnologically produced spider silk fibers from AMSilk could replace petroleum-based textile fibers made of polyethylene or polyamide.

Enriching the textile industry with bio-based solutions – this common strategic goal led to a collaboration between the world's first commercial supplier of biotech silk polymers from Martinsried, AMSilk, and the Zwingenberg-based biotechnology company BRAIN Biotech just over a year ago. The aim of the collaboration was to establish high-performance protein-based fibers for the textile industry.

To this end, the partners want to optimize specific properties of AMSilk's protein fibres with the help of BRAIN's enzyme technology for various high-performance applications in the textile sector. The two companies have now announced the first success of their research and development alliance, which has only been running for twelve months.

Smart protein design including AI

According to the company, a natural structural protein has been optimized in a target-oriented manner. The molecule was modified at amino acid level so that the products could be tailored to the respective market requirements. At the same time, a first PCT patent (Patent Cooperation Treaty) was registered for this process.

The success of the strategic R&D cooperation between the two biotechnology companies is based on protein engineering through computer-aided (or rational) design. BRAIN Biotech has already successfully specialized in this technology service for many years in the enzyme technology unit at the Zwingenberg site, according to the press release. "Many protein fibers that we have designed and produced at BRAIN Biotech have shown greatly improved properties in real application technology. We are very pleased that we were once again able to contribute to the success of a customer - in this case AMSilk - with our technology," says Alexander Pelzer, Head of Research & Development at BRAIN Biotech in Zwingenberg. According to Pelzer, powerful bioinformatics including various AI approaches were used.

Customized solutions for the textile industry possible

Following the successful production and characterization of the structural proteins on a milliliter scale, BRAIN Biotech will now produce the top candidates in the fermenter on a liter scale and make them available to AMSilk for application tests. "Together with BRAIN Biotech, we will bring customized material solutions to the market that meet customer requirements and are sustainable at the same time," says Gudrun Vogtentanz, Chief Scientific Officer at AMSilk. "This will enable us to revolutionize the performance materials market, which is currently largely dominated by petroleum-based textiles, in the long term."

AMSilk's bioengineered silk proteins, which can be formulated as powders, hydrogels, fibers and coatings, have the potential to replace petroleum-based textile fibers made from polyethylene or polyamide. In addition, the recombinant silk proteins are not only extremely strong and elastic, but also biodegradable and can be fully recycled so that water bodies are not polluted by microplastics. The fibers made by AMSilk from biotechnologically produced spider silk are in demand worldwide and are already used in numerous sustainable products such as watch straps, sneakers, breast implants and nail polish.