Project: Synthetic Biology for Industrial Production of Steroids

Acronym Syntheroids (Reference Number: 48)
Project Topic Steroids are the second largest class of drugs marketed for medical applications, only exceeded by antibiotics. Currently, there are more than 300 clinically approved steroidal compounds, representing a 10 billion USD market. Although the production of key steroid intermediates (mainly C19-steroids) from phytosterols has been industrially implemented, there is still considerable room for improvement and many challenges remain. The generation of effective engineered strains, improved bioprocess efficiency, improved product recovery, and the problem of end-product inhibition are major challenges for the industry. The Syntheroids (Synthetic Biology for Industrial Production of Steroids) project aims to develop integrative processes for innovative bioconversion of phytosterols to C22-steroids based on Synthetic Biology of non-pathogenic Actinobacteria (Mycobacterium, Nocardioides). These compounds are key intermediates in the synthesis of several therapeutic steroids applied in gastroenterology and endocrinology. The central objective of Syntheroids is to develop an integrated production process for pharmaceutical steroids using Synthetic Biology and improved processing technology. To achieve this goal, the Syntheroids project has the following four specific objectives: Omics data integration from steroid producing Actinobacteria as a source of Synthetic Biology targets for productive strain evolution Creating genetically engineered bacterial strains capable of producing innovative C22‑steroid precursors Reduce or eliminate end-product inhibition by mutagenesis, genetic engineering and process optimization. Integrate up- and downstream processes for an eco-friendly bioconversion. Steroid pharmaceuticals are important for life quality, healthy development and ageing, all major challenges today. Production of key intermediates for the synthesis of therapeutic steroids, in an eco-friendly and economical process, is the main expected result of Syntheroids. A few steroid precursors are today industrially produced from phytosterols, mainly by companies in China, India and the US, although some are located in Europe. All in fierce and keen competition. Innovative ideas that can expand the list of steroids produced from phytosterols in a single-step biotechnological process are wanted, and this is why two European companies (Bionice and Pharmins ltd.) are active partners in the five-partner Consortium Syntheroids. Shorter steroid production pipelines and eco-friendly processes, in compliance with European regulations, will increase the EU-GDP (gross domestic product) as it will increase the companies’ competitiveness and reduce the end drug user's medical invoice.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
Website visit project website
Network ERA CoBioTech
Call ERA CoBioTech “Biotechnology for a sustainable bioeconomy”

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 Asociación de Investigación Instituto de Biotecnología de León Coordinator Spain
2 Pharmins Ltd Partner Russia
3 Sintef Materials and Chemistry Partner Norway
4 TU Dortmund Partner Germany
5 Bionice Partner Spain