Aston researcher wins Commercial Innovator of the Year award

Aston Reader, Dr Anna Hine, won the prestigious Biotechnology and biological Sciences Research Council’s (BBSRC) Commercial Innovator of the Year Award in recognition of her development of high quality gene libraries for use by businesses involved in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.

Supporting pharma and biotech

Protein engineering company Isogenica has successfully industrialised the technology, and is now marketing this process worldwide, under the trade name Colibra™.

Work on the gene library project initially started in 2001, with the BBSRC and Aston University funding Drs Marcus Hughes and Mohammed Ashraf, who developed ProxiMAX randomisation at the bench. ProxiMAX is the one of the most accurate ways yet developed to engineer proteins. The procedure can create tens of trillions of slight variations of a natural protein. The resulting "libraries", can be screened by pharmaceutical companies to discover new biological drugs. Aston’s Business Partnership Unit was instrumental in helping Dr Hine transfer the technology into Isogenica.

"You will struggle to find a university more attuned to the needs of business and industry."
The Sunday Times

Dr Anna Hine said; “I am thrilled and honoured to receive this award for our work on saturation mutagenesis and I must acknowledge those colleagues who have contributed towards this tremendous outcome. It’s great to see our research in the “real world” and to know that we really are making a difference. Isogenica is a fantastic company to work with – dynamic, exciting and extremely capable. I feel very privileged.”

Innovator of the Year

The Innovator of the Year competition forms part of BBSRC Fostering Innovation Programme, which celebrates the success of scientists, knowledge exchange practitioners and institutions which have translated excellent research into social and economic benefits in UK bioscience.