Over the past 12 months, Hart Innovations’ Research and Development Scientist Shelley James has been working with Manchester University as part of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP).
The KTP is a collaboration between a university graduate, an SME and a university. The purpose of which is to allow the graduate to receive the knowledge, skills and guidance of a university in a specific field and to facilitate the embedding of new technology in the company
It ultimately helps the graduate and the company they represent to grow alongside each other.
Shelley said: “The KTP that we’re taking part in is to create Hart Innovations’ own version of a recombinant protein which we can then use in Hart Bio’s own branded products. In some of these products we use a protein called Heparinase I which is used to break down the anticoagulant known as Heparin.
“To create the recombinant protein, we have acquired the DNA sequence for Heparinase I, then inserted into what is known as a vector (a vehicle for transporting DNA). The vector containing the protein DNA is taken up by E. coli bacteria which will then produce the protein in large amounts before we can extract it.”
The KTP with Manchester University is split into eight stages and Shelley describes progress as being near completion of stage three.
She said: “We’ve created several combinations of vectors and DNA which give the protein different characteristics to increase production or make extraction from the bacteria easier. We want to find out what the best combination is, so I have inserted the DNA into seven different vectors which will then be inserted into five different strains of E. coli bacteria.
“Once we have the protein samples we run them through an SDS-PAGE gel which separates the proteins and shows us which bacteria have produced the most protein. We’ll then pick the five-best vector/bacteria combinations and try to optimise the method to get the most active protein we can.”
Whilst undertaking the KTP, Shelley has had the opportunity to take part in specialist training to support her progress. She said: “I’ve been to a management training facility named Ashorne Hill in Leamington Spa to learn things like leadership and management skills, conflict management, finance and budgeting, all to help in the KTP.
“These training sessions also form the teaching part of a CMI Management Level 5 qualification and I’ve also been accepted for a Master’s in Philosophy at Sunderland University who will look at the research undertaken within the KTP and award me with an MPhil by research.
“I can’t believe that I graduated only last July, and I’ve now got this opportunity. It’s fantastic and I do think that my placement year with Hart Innovations has set me up in such good stead and given me such great experience and confidence to go on and apply for the KTP.
“After the two-year programme I’d very much like to stay with Hart Innovations and utilise the skills I’ve learned going forward.”