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Intrexon to Produce Farnesene from Methane Using its Bioconversion Tech.

Published on 2014-07-24. Author : SpecialChem

SAN CARLOS, Calif. -- Intrexon Corporation (NYSE: XON), a leader in synthetic biology, announced its Industrial Products Division has achieved the bioconversion of methane to farnesene in the lab with its proprietary platform. Farnesene is a key building block chemical for diesel fuel, and also for other lubricants and specialty products, including cosmetics, rubber, and plastics. This is the second product, following isobutanol, which Intrexon has upgraded from natural gas employing its unique cellular engineering capabilities.

To achieve industrial-scale bioconversion of natural gas to chemicals, lubricants and fuels, Intrexon is developing microbial cell lines genetically enhanced to convert methane to higher carbon content compounds at ambient temperatures and pressures, thereby reducing the significant expenditures compared to standard gas-to-liquid (GTL) processes. Traditional conversion platforms rely on costly thermochemical catalytic processes, such as the Fischer-Tropsch method of carbon upgrading, or depend on available sugar-based technologies or plant-based feedstocks, which are expensive sources of carbon. By utilizing natural gas as its supply source, Intrexon's proprietary bioconversion platform uses one of the most economical forms of carbon that is highly abundant and is the least costly form of energy other than coal. Moreover, unlike sugar, natural gas is a highly reduced source of carbon, allowing conversion of the entire feedstock to highly reduced products.

Intrexon has developed an advanced suite of tools that enable rapid manipulation of methanotrophs, the only organism found in nature that naturally consumes methane, including gene knock in/out, direct transformation/electroporation, and plasmid-based expression systems. Unlike many industrial hosts, methanotrophs are challenging to genetically engineer as the requisite tools are generally not available and detailed microbial regulatory and physiological information are lacking. Using its technology suite, Intrexon has generated methanotroph strains that are capable of upgrading natural gas to fuels and chemicals. To capitalize on the breakthrough of bioconversion of natural gas to higher value targets, Intrexon formed a joint venture called Intrexon Energy Partners (IEP) in March 2014. IEP raised $75 million from its partners to help fund commercialization of the technology for fuels and lubricants.

Robert F. Walsh, Senior Vice President of Intrexon's Energy Sector, commented, "Intrexon's methane bioconversion platform holds the potential to transform the GTL industry by generating valuable fuels and chemicals at a fraction of the costs of more traditional conversion methods. We see natural gas being in ample supply for the foreseeable future, and our ability to upgrade this inexpensive carbon via our genome engineering capabilities will allow for a biocatalyst solution with a compelling economic return."

About Intrexon Corporation

Intrexon Corporation (NYSE: XON) is a leader in synthetic biology focused on collaborating with companies in Health, Consumer, Food, Energy, and Environment Sectors to create biologically-based products that improve the quality of life and the health of the planet. Through the company's proprietary UltraVector® platform and suite of technologies, Intrexon provides its partners with industrial-scale design and development of complex biological systems. The UltraVector® platform delivers unprecedented control over the quality, function, and performance of living cells.

Forward-looking Statements

Some of the statements made in this press release are forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based upon our current expectations and projections about future events and generally relate to our plans, objectives and expectations for the development of our business. Although management believes that the plans and objectives reflected in or suggested by these forward-looking statements are reasonable, all forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties and actual future results may be materially different from the plans, objectives and expectations expressed in this press release.

Source: Intrexon

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