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May 29, 2013
Nucelis inaugurates pilot plant
Today, Nucelis Inc. (San Diego, Calif.; www.nucelis.com) officially commissioned its first, state-of-the-art fermentation facility. The new pilot plant was custom-designed and fabricated to enable Nucelis to run virtually any fermentation process. “This facility will allow us and our partners to very efficiently and accurately test our production processes, and gives us the unique ability to take our projects from the lab bench to a commercially-relevant scale,” says Sean O’Connor, Nucelis’ president and CEO. “Commissioning of this plant is a significant milestone for Nucelis and allows us to demonstrate the effectiveness of our breakthrough gene editing technology in microorganisms.”
San Diego Mayor Bob Filner participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony and provided the keynote remarks. “San Diego is the 2nd biggest biotech center in America — with Nucelis we’re going to be No. 1 soon,” Mayor Filner quipped. “We have to maintain that. It’s important for everything else we’re doing in this city to be known as that kind of center, because people want to grow their business here, they want to locate here and they understand that you’re here because there’s a great education system, because there’s a great connection with the university system and because local governments understand and support what you do.”
“This ribbon cutting is the christening of a new company developing exciting new non-GMO (genetically modified organism) technologies in intermediate and specialty chemical processing, which we believe is going to be very important in the evolution of these industries over the next 10 years,” remarked Rory Riggs, chairman of the Board. “Nucelis is the result of a tremendous amount of work to develop this RTDS technology which allows us now to develop non-transgenic products using plant and biologic sources. As more and more products get labeled GMO, to have a technology to create non-transgenic products in an efficient way is critically important. In the last couple of years the global community has recognized RTDS (Rapid Trait Development System) as the gold standard for non-GMO technology.”
Nucelis’ pilot plant is capable of simultaneously running multiple fermentation processes, and it can accommodate a variety of microorganisms such as yeasts, bacteria, or algae. In addition to the fermentation plant, Nucelis has also built a solvent-capable purification suite for a range of downstream processing needs. This will allow the company to extract and recover their target products on-site for further optimization, testing, and sample-generation. Similar to the pilot plant, this facility is flexible in design, and it will accommodate the various products fermented in the pilot plant. Having this functionality at their disposal will substantially improve Nucelis’ speed and ability to get their products to market. “The first product in line for pilot-scale production is our high-purity squalane, which we expect to be available to customers for testing in the next few months,” said O’Connor. He added that several other products are already in the pipeline, and that they will make their way through the pilot plant in the near future.
Nucelis is a pioneering biotechnology company built on a platform of unique, patented technology for optimizing cell structure and function. Nucelis has licensed exclusive access to Rapid Trait Development System (RTDS) technology in its key product areas that enables precise changes in the DNA of virtually any living organism. RTDS takes advantage of the natural gene repair system that exists in cells and is typically used by a cell to correct naturally occurring DNA mistakes and mutations. RTDS is much more precise compared to the randomness of traditional transgenic technology.
Behind Nucelis is a vision for changing the way industry views bio-based chemicals. The company believes in exploring nature’s own production factories such as plants, yeast, and bacteria. Nucelis does not need to synthetically re-engineer microorganisms by inserting foreign genes into the target DNA, or by using controversial GMO techniques. Instead, it starts with naturally-efficient organisms that already make a target chemical, and work to increase that organism’s production. Wherever possible, Nucelis researchers strive to use low-value feedstocks that are abundant and come from outside of the food chain. The result is a sustainable process that is potentially less costly and more efficient.