Our Science

Whether through sophisticated or rudimentary means, for thousands of years, people have been using microorganisms for a very profitable (and delicious) chemical byproduct: the fermentation of wheat to produce billions of liters of beer worldwide. The process by which a microorganism, brewer’s yeast, converts a cereal (wheat or other grains) into a valuable product is quite intricate from a biochemical standpoint. The uptake of wheat sugar is coupled to a yeast metabolism pathway of natural enzymes that convert those sugars into energy (in the form of the molecule adenosine triphosphate) and alcohol (ethanol).

Although yeast produces ethanol as a byproduct of this process, it is the main valuable outcome in the production of beer.  As such, yeast fermentation has been used on a very large industrial scale for the production of ethanol as a biofuel.

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Technology

The exact same process used to make beer can be altered to ferment sugars and other renewable resources such as agricultural waste into a plethora of valuable chemicals, provided that we can reliably design and manipulate novel metabolic pathways that convert the starting material (feedstock) into the ultimate desired product. The primary challenge lies in the fact that the chemicals and material building blocks of most interest to the chemical industry are not known to be made by natural organisms or any existing metabolic pathways. To truly be able to reliably and systematically create designer cell factories for the production of current and new chemicals of interest, one need to satisfy two experimental constraints. One, design novel metabolic pathways employing the necessary enzymatic building blocks to process feedstock to final product the same way that wheat ultimately turns into beer.  Two, integrate these novel pathways in a cellular chassis and optimize them to reach the desired level of yield, concentration and purity.

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Arzeda’s proprietary technology combines targeted computational enzyme design and protein optimization with state-of-the-art metabolic bioengineering to create entirely novel designer cell factories capable of industry-scale chemical production.