13 Oct Heat-loving microbes may lead Lucigen to new products
Middleton, Wis. — Lucigen, a biotech company that has so far concentrated on DNA cloning, has landed federal support to commercialize enzymes from rare microbes the company collected from boiling hot springs in Yellowstone National Park.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek, California, will sequence genetic data that will help Lucigen sort through the microbes and find those with commercial potential, company president and CEO David Mead said. The institute makes its data publicly available.
“We’re going to get to look at rougly 200 million bases of nucleotide sequence data, and there’s going to be literally thousands and thousands of new genes in there,” Mead said. The microbes, collected at Obsidian Hot Springs, include varieties never seen before, he said, and some appear multi-cellular, a rarity in hot-spring microbes.
Potential products include PCR amplification of genes, which Mead said is a $1 billion market and includes research reagents and diagnostics.
The Joint Genome Institute solicits proposals each year for gene projects and has them peer reviewed. “You’ve got four to five pages to convince them you know what you’re doing,” Mead said.
Jason Stitt is WTN’s associate editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.