Javier Viña is Co-founder and Scientific Manager of EvoEnzyme. He is PhD in Biochemistry at Prof. Miguel Alcalde´s lab in the Institute of Catalysis and Petrochemistry from the CSIC with stays at the Technical University of Graz (Prof. Anton Glieder). As an enzymologist he brings his broad knowledge in library creation methods and HTS protocols for lab evolution with several publications in the field.
EvoEnzyme is a spin-off from CSIC, Spain, which focuses its activities on the commercialization of ligninolytic enzymes engineered by directed evolution for the pharma and industrial sectors, together with the development of directed evolution projects. EvoEnzyme`s team lead by Javier is responsible of the customisation and development of enzymes and resins at lab level demonstrating the potential of the ligninases to resolve end-of-life issues of the four studied resins in BIZENTE and the composites based on them. Javier Viña explains in this interview how the process of customizing and developing new enzymes take place and how the evaluation of those enzymes allow us to gain molecular understanding of the enzymatic degradation process.
EVOENZYME role is is to perform the customization of enzymes applying directed evolution strategies in order to improve their performance in the degradation process. How do you do it, exactly?
Our methodology produces thousands of enzyme variants that are studied with the help of robot stations in our laboratory. Our objective is to select “winner mutants” based on their ability to chemically modify model molecules of the resins. It is a highly explorative process where we gather a lot of information that help us to design the whole biocatalytic process of degradation.
How the chemical modification of the resins developed in BIZENTE is assembled with the process developed by EvoEnzyme?
We are very excited about that aspect of the project. We think that the development of newly designed composites is essential to complete the whole circular process. The degradation of resins is not a very explored field from the enzymatic perspective; hence, we need to build up all the possible information to design efficient processes. With all that knowledge, the development of the degradation of the novel resins will be more direct. Also, directed evolution is the perfect technique to apply in order to adapt the studied enzymes and attack the modified resins.
BIZENTE focusses on aeronautical, transport and construction sectors. Which other industries will benefit from BIZENTE’s results?
Enzymatic plastic degradation is a very challenging and multidisciplinary topic that needs plenty of data and information to be developed. BIZENTE´s advances will benefit sectors like pharma, food and many more.
How EvoEnzyme is going to take advantage of the research performed in BIZENTE?
In our laboratory we are always trying to figure out how enzyme work and how can they be developed. Thanks to BIZENTE we will be able to design different processes like library creation methods or screening assays that will be useful in our daily activities.
To which extend you consider BIZENTE solution revolutionary?
It is revolutionary in the sense of applying an unconventional degradation system for the first time on a material as important as a composite. There is a lot of work to be done but thankfully BIZENTE has a great and very driven team of professionals to make it happen.