Filamentous fungi produce medicine, food, biomaterials and almost any protein

VTT researchers are utilizing filamentous fungi, specifically Trichoderma reesei, to create efficient cell factories for commercial use, producing animal proteins for medicinal and nutritional purposes without using animals or animal cells. By using the amino acid sequence of the desired protein, they have successfully produced egg white and milk proteins, as well as novel biomaterials.

The reacquisition of patents related to T. reesei enhances VTT’s ability to produce therapeutic antibodies and other biopharmaceuticals more efficiently compared to traditional animal cell methods, which are slower and more expensive. VTT's largest production batches reach up to 1,200 liters.

T. reesei, introduced at VTT over 40 years ago, was initially valued for its ability to produce cellulase enzymes, which break down plant cellulose into sugars. This capability was first explored during the 1970s oil crisis for biofuel production, although its industrial use evolved to include fabric treatment and enzyme production for various applications like cheese curdling and detergent manufacturing.

Through gene technology advancements from the 1980s, VTT has significantly increased protein yields by replacing cellulase enzyme genes with those encoding industrially relevant enzymes. Recently, focus has shifted to producing animal proteins for nutritional and other industrial uses, including drug and structural proteins not found in nature.

VTT customizes new T. reesei strains for cost-effective protein production tailored to customer specifications. An example is the production of egg white protein by Onego Bio, a VTT spin-off. Despite limited pilot manufacturing capacity in Europe, VTT’s biotechnology R&D team, comprising over 100 employees, continues to advance the field, utilizing T. reesei for its ease of modification, efficient nutrient use, and ability to grow on inexpensive raw materials.

Read the original news article here.

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