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Lucigen receives $750K grant to boost biofuel yields

Madison, Wis. - Lucigen Corp. of Middleton has received a Phase II SBIR grant from the National Institutes of Health to complete development and commercialization of a new DNA polymerases, or enzymes, that could boost ethanol production.

The product is the company's second “bioprospecting” find as the result of discovering enzymes in previously unknown viruses from boiling hot springs. In its first bioprospecting discovery, it found enzymes that promise to increase yields in bioethanol production from corn, a high-temperature process.

Last year Lucigen spun off another company, C5-6 Technologies, to commercialize these enzymes. C5-6 is expanding this work in developing enzymes for biofuel production from soybeans and biomass.

Lucigen has been “bioprospecting” hot springs and other high-temperature environments by using proprietary methods to clone and screen the genomes of rare bacteria and viruses for novel enzymes.

Similar but less efficient high-temperature enzymes are used in automated DNA sequencers that are used in research, molecular diagnostics, and drug discovery. Lucigen is collaborating with two manufacturers of automated DNA sequencers to integrate these enzymes with their instrumentation.
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