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*EASTBIO* Utilisation of lactobionic acid in biodegradable biopolymers

  • Full or part time
    Prof T K Smith
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, April 13, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

BBSRC Thematic Group: Bioscience for Renewable Resource and Clean Growth

This research will provide some foundations to obtain a sustainable and green way to contribute to solving the problem of using petrochemical based plastics and polymers, and aid the advancement of new uses for existing modified biopolymers, making them cost effective ways to produce the eco-friendly and biodegradable plastics.

In the plastics industry, there is a heavy reliance upon fossil based chemical substances including additives, which are commonly used to enhance the properties, but at the same time it has negative impacts to the environment. A sustainable way to manufacture the polymers i.e. bioplastic, is to utilize renewable / green starting materials.

In this project, we will utilize lactobionic acid (and derivatives there of) a versatile polyhydroxy acid which has recently become an important bioactive compound with numerous existing applications in the food, medicine, pharmaceutical, cosmetics and chemical industries. We will use this biofunctionalization agent for the synthesis of novel biocompatible and biodegradable biopolymers, for a wide range of applications, including; polymeric packing materials, hydrogels, drug delivery systems, using enzyme catalysed reactions, simple amide coupling, oxime free radical and click based chemistries.
Lactose has already been utilized very successfully in a range of novel materials including drug delivery systems. The fact that lactobionic acid has an acid functionality allows further chemical scope in terms of modification and /or coupling through this moiety.

The project will involve range of skills that span both molecular biology, protein expression, purification, enzyme assays, various analytic techniques including carbohydrate analysis.
Simple organic chemistry will be involved that will facilitate modification of the monomer and subsequent polymerization and characterization.

Funding Notes

This project is eligible for the EASTBIO Doctoral Training Partnership: View Website

This opportunity is only open to UK nationals (or EU students who have been resident in the UK for 3+ years immediately prior to the programme start date) due to restrictions imposed by the funding body.

Apply by 5.00 pm on 13 April 2020 following the instructions on how to apply at: View Website

Please also upload the EASTBO Application Form as an additional document to the University of St Andrews online Application.

Informal inquiries to the primary supervisor are very strongly encouraged.


Alonso, S., Rendueles, M. and Díaz, M. 2013. Bio-production of lactobionic acid: Current status, applications and future prospects. Biotechnol. Advances, 31: 1275–1291.

Bharwade, MN, Balakrishnan, S., Chaudhary, NN., and Jain AK. 2017 Lactobionic Acid: Significance and Application in Food and Pharmaceutical Intl. J. Food. Ferment. 6(1): 25-33,

Belkacemi, K., Vlad, M.C., Hamoudi, S. and Arul, J. 2007. Value-added processing of lactose: preparation of bioactive lactobionic acid using a novel catalytic method. Int. J. Chemical Reactor Engineering, 5: 64.

How good is research at University of St Andrews in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 50.45

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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