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Biotechnology employs living organisms (plants, animals, or microbes) to make or modify products or processes for commercial use. Biotechnology has its roots in food and agriculture, where yeast are employed to make beer and bread, and lactic acid bacteria to make cheese. Medicines such as antibiotics and interferon alpha and key industrial chemicals such as acetone, butanol and acetic acid are all produced via biotechnological processes.

Biotechnology is also used in bioremediation to clean up toxic waste such as TCE (trichloroethylene), PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls), oil and coal waste. Enzymes produced from biotechnological processes have diverse applications e.g. in the food industry where they contribute to flavour development, improvement of extractions or modification of food functionality. At Shannon ABC we interact with various companies in the Biotechnology Sector. For example, presently we are investigating the capabilities of bacteria to produce a key raw ingredient which can be used in cosmetics. We also have a fungal biobank at our disposal whereby our fungi can be investigated for enzyme or bioactive production. A fermentation suite at Shannon ABC with a fermenter of 7.5L and downstream purification equipment allows for scale up of fermentation at laboratory level and optimisation of the purification process for bioactive of interest. In addition, we have a 100L fermenter for further fermentation scale up.

An extensive analytical suite consisting of Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry, High Performance Liquid Chromatography, Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry and High-Performance Thin Layer Chromatography and Fourier Transform Spectroscopy ensure that the output of any biotechnology process can be monitored at Shannon ABC.

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