Pharmaceutical Biotechnology and Biorefineries

Degree course: 
Academic year when starting the degree: 
Academic year in which the course will be held: 
Course type: 
Compulsory subjects, characteristic of the class
Standard lectures hours: 
Detail of lecture’s hours: 
Lesson (76 hours), Laboratory (18 hours)

Basic knowledge of Biochemistry, Fermentation Biotechnologies, Microbiology and Molecular Biology. For the lab activities: knowledge of the main techniques of industrial microbiology and fermentation (generally acquired during the bachelor)

Final Examination: 

The examination is an oral exam concerning both the modules.
The aim is evaluating if the student has acquired the knowledge on main biosyntheses and production processes for drugs, biofuels and bioplastics. Additionally student has to demonstrates a multidisciplinary and applicative attitude and an appropriate terminology. For each module, the students will have to answer to three questions, each of one can contribute for a third of the final score. The lab activity will be evaluated through a written scientific report of the experimental activities (maximum three points). The final score is the mean of the scores achieved in two modules, given in 30ies: the examination is successful if a score ≥ 18/30 is gained in each module and in the lab report.

Voto Finale

The course is fundamental to the preparation of a student in Molecular and Industrial Biotechnology. The goal is providing a thorough understanding of the fundamental principles, terminology, methodology, of the processes and of the biotechnology principles to produce drugs (like antibiotics, anticancers, statins and immunosuppressants), bio-oils, bioethanol, biogas, biohydrogen, fine chemicals and plastics manufactured by microbes. The course is also aimed to provide the most updated knowledge/skills related to molecular and physiological techniques applied to the production of bio-goods and bio-services. Students will learn state-of-the-art techniques in exploitation of microbial chemical diversity for human health, environment protection and renewable sources. The course is based on theoretical lessons and experimental lab activities. Visits to pharmaceutical, bioethanol and biogas production plants are planned and onsite lessons and interviews will create a network between students and experts in the field.
The learning outcomes are the following:
- understanding and critically reviewing biotec processes and products through the comprehension of scientific texts (in English) and experimental data analysis
- using knowledge to evaluate the aims and/or the results of a fermentation process both on the qualitative and quantitative point of view, and proposing tools for improvements
- applying the knowledge in the field of microbial biotechnology to an industrial process
- conducting fermentations for producing bioactive products
- demonstrating effective communication skills with the experts using appropriate terminology
- demonstrating attitude to working in group in the lab conducting experiments and analyzing data

Module “Pharmaceutical Biotechnology”
36 hours class including one trip to visit pharma pilot plant (4 hours on site lesson and visit) for producing microbial sourced-drugs.
Research and Development of microbial sourced-drugs; genome mining; natural product screening; main classes of antibacterials (aminoglycosides, glycopeptides, lantibiotics, beta-lactams, macrolides), antifungals, statins, imunosupressors, anticancers; mode of action and resistance; biosynthetic routes and gene clusters; production and strain improvement for secondary metabolite production; scaling up

Laboratory: 24 hours practical lab:
growth of actinomycetes producing glycopeptides in shake flasks and in fermentors, fermentation process, analysis of growth parameters, extraction of glycopeptides, analysis of production by HPLC, discussion of obtained results

Module “Biorefineries”
40 hours class including one or two trips (10 hours on site lessons and visits) visiting biogas and/or bioethanol production plants. Subjects:
microbes, enzymes, genes and processes to produce ethanol, butanol, biodiesel, biogas, biohydrogen, bioplastics, bioelectricity
Along the course, two or three seminars will be delivered by visiting professors in English.

Slide, selected papers and lab notes on the E-learning site
- B.R.Glock and J.J.Pasternak, Biotecnologia molecolare, Zanichelli
- G.Lancini and R. Lorenzetti, Biotechnology of antibiotics and other bioactive microbial metabolites, Plenum Press
- Flavia Marinelli and Olga Genilloud, Antimicrobials: New and Old Molecules in the Fight against Multi-resistant Bacteria, Springer
- Antonio Moreira, Volume 3 Industrial Biotechnology and Commodity Products, Comprenhensive Biotechnology, second edition, Elsevier


Lessons by the professor, by the visiting professors, by the experts during visiting pharma and biorefineries” The practical activities will be held in Microbial Biotec lab and Fermentation Unit in via Dunant, 3. During practical activities students, will be divided in small groups of 4-5, and each group will have a fermenter to conduct for antibiotic production. Before performing experiments, students will have the protocols necessary to follow the activities (fermenter start up, biomass production, HPLC analyses of antibiotics). Students have to bring calculator, appropriate stationery, lab coat. Professor and one or two assistants will be present in the lab to guarantee assistance. The participation at the practical activities is compulsory and absences are acceptable for a maximum of 25% of total hours.

Appointment with students agreed by e-mail message