Engineering enzymes to help solve the planet’s plastic problem

Researchers from the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology (MIB) have developed a new enzyme engineering platform to improve plastic degrading enzymes through directed evolution.

o address these limitations, in a paper released today in Nature Catalysis, researchers from The University of Manchester have reported a new enzyme engineering platform that can quickly improve the properties of plastic degrading enzymes to help make them more suitable for plastic recycling at large scales. Their integrated and automated platform can successfully assess the plastic degradation ability of around 1000 enzyme variants per day. 

Dr Elizabeth Bell, who led the experimental work at the MIB, says of the platform; The accumulation of plastic in the environment is a major global challenge. For this reason, we were keen to use our enzyme evolution capabilities to enhance the properties of plastic degrading enzymes to help alleviate some of these problems. We are hopeful that in the future our scalable platform will allow us to quickly develop new and specific enzymes are suitable for use in large-scale plastic recycling processes.” Read more