Next patent for scientists from the Intercollegiate Faculty of Biotechnology UG and MUG


An invention that can be used, among other things, in producing probiotics has received a patent from the Patent Office of the Republic of Poland. A team of scientists led by dr hab. Robert Czajkowski, prof. UG from the Intercollegiate Faculty of Biotechnology UG and MUG and composed of dr Dorota Krzyżanowska, dr Tomasz Maciąg, dr Joanna Siwińska and dr hab. Sylwia Jafra, prof. UG worked on the project ‘Reagent for the protection of microorganisms in the lyophilisation process’.

The invention can be used in particular in the production of probiotics, protection of beneficial microorganisms in technological processes or as a reagent stabilising the viability of microorganisms in prepared preparations during their long-term storage and transport.

‘Lyophilisation is a popular drying method involving the evaporation of solvent from frozen substances by sublimation. The process is widely used in the food, cosmetic or pharmaceutical industries and in the preservation of biological materials,’ says research team leader prof. Robert Czajkowski.

Lyophilisation is often used in the production of preparations whose active agents are microorganisms. This method allows for the long-term preservation of the viability of microorganism cells, which is necessary for these preparations to work. However, to carry out freeze-drying in a way that guarantees the viability of a high percentage of cells, it is required to optimise the technological process in order to minimise the damage caused to the cells by freezing and evaporation of water. To achieve this, it is common to add protective substances - so-called cryoprotectants - to preparations before the freeze-drying process. One such substance is the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) recommended cryoprotectant known as ‘Reagent 18’ - a reagent containing Bovine Serum Albumine (BSA). The disadvantage of the proposed solution, despite its effectiveness, is the high price of the reagent due to the use of expensive BSA.

‘Our team developed a new lyophilisation reagent, which uses a much cheaper substance of plant origin as a substitute for bovine serum albumin,’ says prof. Robert Czajkowski. The modification not only significantly reduces the cost of the preparation but also makes it more humane, as the reagent is devoid of animal components. What is particularly important, the effectiveness of the developed cryoprotectant remains at the same level as with the reagent containing BSA - and in some cases, even exceeds it.

‘We developed the invention for a specific project need. We wanted to increase the survival rate of the bacterial strains forming the synthetic microbial consortium to protect potato tubers in storage and transport. During the course of the research, it became clear to us that the reagent developed by the team is very versatile and can also be used to protect other microorganisms in a very wide range of applications, such as in medicine or dietetics,’ adds the team leader.

‘When there is a need to effectively lyophilise a large number of bacterial cells to produce a portion of a preparation, a significant reduction in the cost of the cryoprotectant may affect the final assessment of the profitability of commercial production of such products,’ says dr Dorota Krzyżanowska. ‘With the increasing interest in microorganism-based products in agriculture, this type of innovation could be beneficial,’ adds the scientist.

The invention is the result of research conducted at IFB UG and MUG under the NCBiR LIDER VI project (LIDER/450/L-6/14/NCBR/2015) entitled ‘Use of synergistic action of lytic bacteriophages and antagonistic bacteria in biological protection of potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) against pectinolytic bacteria of Pectobacterium spp. and Dickeya spp. (PATBIOCON)’.

The researchers were supported by the UG Technology Transfer Centre throughout the process of patenting the invention - from filing to obtaining protection.

Congratulations to the team!

Edit. Julia Bereszczyńska/Press Office