At HAN BioCentre, researchers, lecturers and students, together with companies and knowledge institutions, are conducting practice-based research in the field of applied life sciences (biology, biotechnology, bioinformatics, medicines) and chemistry (organic, analytical). The objective is to build a healthy society that makes responsible (circular, sustainable) use of living nature.
The many research projects conducted by HAN BioCentre during its existence have yielded excellent results:
Microbial oil from organic waste
In the ‘Microbial oil made to measure’ project, HAN BioCentre is working with a unique, oil-producing yeast strain that can grow on many different sugars. This allows vegetable waste streams to be converted into a biobased oil. Together with the companies Allnex, Van Wijhe BV, Baril Coatings and Van Meeuwen, a so-called 2nd generation bio-oil is being developed for use in alkyd resins, paints and lubricants. The research is special because of the multidisciplinary approach, which covers the entire chain from waste processing to the application of the bio-oil. Within the HAN BioCentre, the approach is also multidisciplinary due to a combination of bioinformatics, molecular biology, fermentation technology and analytical chemistry.
Complete exploitation of plant material through biorefinery
Biorefinery is one of the most important tools to recover ingredients from biomass in order to contribute to the development of the biobased economy. The ultimate goal is to extract and reuse all raw materials. Within the RAAK SME project ‘Biorefinery, tool for the production of high-quality products from biomass’, a ‘proof of principle’ study was carried out demonstrating that the biodegradable bioplactic PBS can be produced from roadside grass (a biomass residual flow).
Focus on research parts of the drug discovery process
Drug discovery encompasses the following phases: target identification & validation, assay development, testing of libraries of chemical compounds (screening), hit finding and lead optimalisation. A few challenges in this process are:
- Better predictive to human testmodels are required.
- New advanced testystems will be investigated to get a better translation from cell to human.
These developments will hopefully contribute to lowering of the number of animal testing.
Identifying new chemical startingpoints (small molecules) for new targets and improved properties. Having a look at natural compounds will be a starting point, what small molecules are known that interfere with PPIs is another issue. And, based on collaborations with companies and academia, we design and synthesize focused libraries.
Data-intensive solutions to extract meaning from genetic information
Time and time again, the large amount of data and information available in the life sciences can only be put to good use if knowledge-based strategies are used. For example, together with companies working on the composting of manure for mushroom cultivation and of VGF waste for biogas production, work is being done on the development of effective strategies for the functional mapping of the micro-organisms involved in the processes on the basis of their genetic material. In this way, the processes can ultimately be better controlled and monitored.
HAN BioCentre is one of the seven Centres of Expertise of the University of Applied Sciences Arnhem & Nijmegen and builds on the Biodiscovery and Drug Discovery lectorates. A large number of researchers, lecturers, analysts (16 FTEs) and students contribute to the research carried out under the responsibility of professors Pedro Hermkens (drug discovery) and Christien Lokman (industrial microbiology) and associate professors Christof Francke (bioinformatics|data science) and Richèle Wind (biobased economy and coordinator of HAN BioCentre). The knowledge acquired flows back into education in the form of lessons and assignments for both the bachelor’s and master’s programmes of the Academy of Applied Biosciences and Chemistry.
HAN BioCentre is located at Laan van Scheut 2 in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Besides the activities in Nijmegen, HAN BioCentre is actively contributing to the development of a hybrid learning and working environment at the Pivot Park in Oss for drug discovery and within the plans for Connectr at the Kleefsewaard Industrial Estate in Arnhem for biobased research.