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Synthetic Biology Technology

Amyris provide bio alternative to shark ingredients for key vaccines including COVID-19.

Synthetic biotechnology pioneers Amyris have provided some good news for sharks with an announcement that it is currently delivering samples to pharmaceutical companies of a sustainable and scalable alternative to shark-based vaccine adjuvants currently used in a number of vaccines, including those directed at influenza and COVID-19. Amyris expects commercialization and production of its alternative squalene for adjuvants in the fourth quarter. This is a timely announcement with action group Shark Allies warning half a million sharks could be ‘killed for a vaccine’ to COVID-19 with around 3,000 sharks are needed to extract one tonne of squalene.

In what might be a surprise to many consumers squalene is a natural oil made in the liver of sharks and used as an ingredient within adjuvants in vaccines to improve efficacy of a vaccine. Shark-based squalene is used in influenza vaccines and in various COVID-19 vaccines and now Amyris ( @Amyris )  has developed a process to naturally produce sugarcane-derived squalene as an effective alternative to shark-derived squalene.

Adjuvants are added to vaccines to boost immune system response and those including squalene are typically sourced from deep-sea shark livers, a non-sustainable and non-scalable resource.

“Our patented technology and manufacturing processes have already produced a number rof applications to, among other things, create a scalable treatment for malaria, and a variety of sustainably-sourced clean products and ingredients that are better for people and our planet,” said John Melo, President and CEO.

“We believe our capabilities are critical toward supporting a healthier planet while protecting its resources, including the lives of sharks essential to the marine ecosystem. We are committed to delivering the world’s needs for a high performance, low cost sustainable squalene without killing a single shark. We believe this is essential in responding to pandemics and delivering vaccines for all people in need on our planet” continued Melo.

You may also be interested in… 

Read: The Amyris story: veterans of a new industry (story from 2015).

Read: Plastic-free, water-soluble personal care brand Nohbo raises $3m in seed funding

Read: ADM and Spiber ally their skills to expand production of bio-based polymers.

Attend: World Bio Markets – Amsterdam, March 2021. 

Download: Issue #18 of the Bio Market Insights Quarterly. 

Read: New material made from wood fibre and spider silk ‘could replace plastic’, scientists say.



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