UC Irvine spin-out licenses university continuous manufacturing tech

Debut Biotechnology will utilise easy-to-use enzyme cartridges to create complex pharmaceuticals, alcohol and cannabinoids using only cells

Debut Biotechnology Team (L–R): Dr Nicholas Brideau (Senior Scientist), Brady Beauchamp (Co-Founder & COO), Megha Rawal (Research Scientist), Dr Gregory Weiss (Co-Founder & Advisor), Dr Joshua Britton (Co-Founder & CEO).

Debut Biotechnology, a start-up from California, has exclusively licensed two inventions from the University of California, Irvine (UCI). The inventions will allow continuous manufacturing in the pharmaceutical, alcoholic beverage, and cannabinoid industries.

Utilising easy-to-use enzyme cartridges, complex pharmaceuticals will be created using only cells, alcohol will be created in minutes, and cannabinoids will be manufactured without the plant.

"We believe the way chemicals and pharmaceuticals are created in the next ten years will be performed using enzymes," said Dr Joshua Britton, founder of Debut Biotechnology. "Enzymes are beautiful machines found in nature that perform complex chemical transformations most chemists can only dream about. We use these machines to construct pharmaceuticals and high-value molecules thus allowing us to re-think chemical synthesis."

The way in which chemicals and pharmaceuticals are made is undergoing a paradigm shift. Reactions are typically done in large containers known as 'batch' reactors. However, continuous manufacturing is changing the way we think about making chemicals. While companies in this area are focused on translating traditional chemistry into continuous manufacturing, Debut sees a different approach and outcome for the future of manufacturing.

The company sees this shift happening with in vitro enzyme catalysis combined with continuous manufacturing.

"Over the next ten years, chemical manufacturing will look much different than it does today. At Debut, we create products that enable this forthcoming change," Britton said.

Britton's words echo those of former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb who said: "Continuous manufacturing helps to ensure consistently-made products, allows manufacturers to more easily scale their manufacturing operations to meet demand, and can help reduce drug shortages by minimising operational stops and starts."

Debut biotechnology is housed at BioLabs in San Diego and aims for their products to decrease process costs, time, energy, land usage, and water typically associated with chemical manufacturing.

"We are excited that Debut is moving this technology from the labs at UCI to realise its transformative potential in continuous manufacturing, thereby benefitting the economy and society at large," noted Casie Kelly, Assistant Director of Licensing at UCI Beall Applied Innovation.