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The central theme of Eli Keshavarz-Moore’s research has been to investigate the interaction between cell engineering and fermentation and downstream processing. The early focus was on the impact of recombinant technology on the processing of macromolecules; in particular proteins with specific attention to the way fermentation strategy may control the location of the protein, and its titre in order to adapt the best harvesting strategy and enable the provision of generic process options for downstream separation. The range of organisms studied included both microbial and fungal systems. This extended into processing of recombinant macromolecules specifically antibodies to transgenic plants as an alternative route to production. The largest challenge is in the early stages where the material for processing is to be prepared and then separated. The work has complemented the mainstream microbial and animal cell studies. Her research has been the basis for further study on creating a framework for rapid choice of a whole bioprocess prior to detailed design. As a one of the 5 principal investigators of IMRC for bioprocessing (2007-2012), she brought a new theme based on the specific, knowledge-based design of cells and their propagation in bioreactors in response to the needs and demands of downstream/ purification stages. This is a novel approach to the whole process design. Hitherto, downstream operations have had to deal with every increasing higher concentrations of biomass and titres of products, and the removal of challenging contaminants arising from early stage processing, whilst operating within the constraints set by regulatory authorities. The new approach has aimed at easing this burden. In further research grants, the challenge of harnessing complex, large plasmids and phages which are potential candidates for a new generation of biopharmaceuticals such as multivalent vaccines and debilitating conditions such as muscular dystrophy has been considered. Their characteristics such as size are setting new barriers both at the synthesis and separation stages due to the likelihood of very low titres, a high level of genomic contamination and high potential degradation. Currently, her collaboration with leading centres in the UK and Europe (Warwick, Kent, Oulu, Zurich) is helping scientists from these centres to re-engineer host cell organisms so they can be used to enhance or create alternative routes for bioprocess sequences.

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