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BASF has opened an expanded Littlehampton production site to meet the growing global demand for biological solutions for agriculture and horticulture. The move means that BASF can increases its production volumes of beneficial nematodes and inoculants, moving ahead with its strategy to develop beyond conventional crop protection. Philipp Rosendorfer, Vice President R&D Functional Crop Care, said: “We are making significant investments in innovating and delivering the best in biological and chemical solutions.” The expansion will allow BASF to double production capacities for beneficial nematodes, which are microscopic organisms that can control a diverse range of insect and slug pests.

Graeme Gowling, Global Biologicals Marketing, Functional Crop Care, said: “The demand for our beneficial nematodes has increased significantly over the past five years. Our customers see an increasingly important role in using beneficial nematodes in Integrated Pest Management programs, as they are easy to apply, have a longer window of activity and can effectively control yield-robbing pests.” Additionally, the newly expanded site in Littlehampton will increase the supply of inoculants from BASF worldwide and especially to Europe and Africa. Inoculants are rhizobia bacteria that, in a symbiotic relationship with their host legume plants, produce root nodules to conduct nitrogen fixation. BASF produces biological inoculants as an ingredient for seed treatments.

Chemical probe

Scientists have created a chemical probe which can switch off two proteins implicated in cancer, shedding new light on the role they play in cell proliferation. The probe will allow more precise analysis of the biological the roles of CDK8 and CDK19 in cancer and other cells and was developed through a research partnership between The Institute of Cancer Research, London, the University of Cardiff, pharmaceutical company Merck Serono, and Cancer Research Technology, the commercial arm of Cancer Research UK.

Project collaboration

The University of Manchester and The Centre for Process Innovation, based in North East England, are collaborating in a biochemical project. Succinic Acid is a 4-Carbon platform chemical that can be used for the manufacture of bio-chemicals and bio-plastics. Currently, it is manufactured from fossil oil and more recently production has been demonstrated by fermentation of sugar. The project will investigate the feasibility for producing Succinic Acid from a low cost industrial waste stream, glycerol, a byproduct of the production of biodiesel transport fuel.

Drug research

The Sussex Drug Discovery Centre – part of the School of Life Sciences at the University of Sussex – has been awarded £1.8 million by the Medical Research Council to use biology and chemistry to combat the side effects of anxiety drugs like Valium. Led by Professors John Atack, Simon Ward and Martin Gosling, the team at the centre will use biological and medicinal chemistry methods to develop next-generation drugs. Their aim is to identify a non-sedating anxiolytic – in other words, Valium without the side effects.