SECRETed Consortium

SECRETed is an initiative that brings together 15 partners from 9 European countries: Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Italy, Greece, Ireland, Iceland, United Kingdom and Germany.

SECRETed is an initiative that brings together 15 partners from 9 European countries: Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Italy, Greece, Ireland, Iceland, United Kingdom and Germany.


IDE R&D is a research SME in the multidisciplinary field of computational science and its application to the optimization of systems and processes in key areas: industrial technology, ICTs, biotechnology, energy, and resource and raw materials efficiency. This approach results in a high added value that sharpens the competitive edge of complex systems by providing improvements in performance and cost effectiveness. IDE R&D employ knowledge and expertise from a number of pure and applied sciences, such as mass and heat transfer, kinetics, biocatalysts, biomechanics, bioinformatics, separation and purification processes, bioreactor design, surface science, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, and polymer science. Altogether conduct advanced data analysis, modeling and optimization techniques to untap novel sources of biomass and bioproducts, find novel biochemical pathways, improve industrial bioprocesses and obtain greener products.

Contribution of IDE R&D to SECRETed project

  • IDE R&D coordinates SECRETed project
  • WP1 (leader): securing ethics requirements.
  • WP3 (leader): developing machine learning algorithms to integrate and survey databases and collect pathways towards production of tailor-made industry-driven biocompounds
  • WP6: participating in upscaling developed processes
  • WP8 & WP9: participating in transversal tasks related with process assessment and exploitation-dissemination activities.
  • WP10 (leader): participating in tasks related with proper management and reporting to the European Commission
Pharma Mar S.A.

PHM is a biopharmaceutical company, focused on oncology and committed to research and development which takes its inspiration from the sea to discover molecules with antitumor activity. It is a company that seeks innovative products to provide healthcare professionals with new tools to treat cancer. Its commitment to patients and to research has made it one of the world leaders in the discovery of antitumor drugs of marine origin. PHM has a pipeline of drug candidates and a robust R&D oncology program. It develops and commercializes Yondelis® in Europe and has other clinical-stage programs under development for several types of solid cancers: lurbinectedin (PM1183), PM184 and PM14.

Contribution of PHM to SECRETed project

  • WP2: offering the consortium a large list of deepsea bacterial extracts for biosurfactants and siderophores screening purposes.
  • WP3: bringing raw data of unusual marine bacteria fully sequenced for genome moning.
  • WP5: providing know-how in cultivation, analytical methods and determining interesting molecular structures.
  • WP7: screening formulations and compounds to detect antitumor activity.
Accuplex Diagnostics LTD

ADL is a technology-based operation developing and manufacturing novel diagnostics tests and analytical methods for use in research, veterinary and potentially human diagnostic applications. Tests include rapid screening systems for iron chelation molecules, rapid point of care tests for detection of biomarkers of inflammation for detection of infection in blood of a range of species including humans. Working through their research-based operation EmergenBio in Maynooth University, they are focusing on the development of diagnostic tests and analytical systems for detection of siderophores for use in veterinary, human and environment applications.

Contribution of ADL to SECRETed project

  • WP2: providing kits, materials, technical support and adapted reagents for high-throughput screening molecules of interest.
  • WP5: developing a high sensitivity analytical system for direct detection of chelation molecules.
  • WP7: exploration of end users for novel products and/or technologies with potential practical and commercial interest; testing the use of siderophores as a biocide agent.

MATIS is a dynamic non-profit R&D company which offers services for the biotechnological and food industries. MATIS has approximately 100 employees, food scientists, chemists, biochemists and molecular biologists. Its expertise in Industrial Biotechnology is applied to:

  • Innovative genomic and metagenomic bioprospecting approaches in mining natural microbial extreme communities for novel industrial microbes, enzymes or valuable compounds.
  • Development of carbohydrate active biorefinery enzymes.
  • Molecular genetics, molecular biotechnology and metabolic engineering of thermophiles for increasing production of enzymes and bio-molecules of industrial enzymes.

MATIS holds a large collection of extremophiles and proprietary genome database of extremophiles (novel species and genera).

Contribution of MATIS to SECRETed project

  • WP2 (Leader): Microbial work associated with functional screening for target molecule production in proprietary extremophilic strains and metagenomes.
  • WP3: Sequence-based screening of genomes and metagenome sequence libraries from marine thermophiles.
  • WP4: Metabolic engineering of aerobic thermophilic chassis species for production of amphiphilic biosurfactants and siderophores.
Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn

SZN is the oldest research institution in Italy (since 1872), the first Marine Research Institution non-belonging to a University and the largest marine biology research center in Italy, hosting over 200 researchers and 20 PhD students every year. The SZN hosts the oldest active Aquarium of the world, which will be complemented with the creation of a new Darwin-Dohrn Museum of Biological Evolution. The mission of the SZN is to improve our understanding of the marine biological systems and evolution of life, in order to improve the sustainable use of resources in the Global Ocean. SZN activities are devoted to both basic and applied research in marine biology and ecology, showing a highly multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach, developed through the most advanced technologies and biotechnologies. The Grant and Innovation Office (GIO) and the Administrative Offices provide a full range of project management support services to scientists, in addition to specific support services, e.g., patenting and Open Access. Its core facilities and administrative support to research constitute a unique combination of expertise and infrastructure to be instrumented for the success of SECRETed project. SZN is playing a central role in the development of next generation observation methods to improve the management of large marine ecosystems.

Contribution of SZN to SECRETed project

  • WP2: Assessment of screening methods for biosurfactants and siderophore production. Standards on microbial resources sharing. Psychrophillic and piezophillic microbial collections screening. Genetic characterization of siderophores and biosurfactants pathway.
  • WP4: Physiological and genetic characterization of suitable production microbial chassis. Metabolic engineering designs for biosurfactant and siderophores overproduction.
  • WP5: Production standards for biosurfactants and siderophores characterization. Evaluation of purification procedures for Biosurfactants and siderophores characterization. Physicochemical characterization of biosurfactants and siderophores properties.
Ethniko Kai Kapodistriako Panepistimio Athinon

UoA is the leading and most renowned academic institution in Greece. UoA participates through the Department of Pharmacognosy and Natural Products Chemistry of Faculty of Pharmacy, whose main research activities are related to the discovery of novel biologically active natural compounds and synthetic derivatives thereof, for several applications such as pharmaceuticals, food supplements and cosmetics from natural sources (plants, marine organisms and microorganisms). Its expertise covers the area of extraction, with emphasis to advanced “green” methods, isolation and structure elucidation of natural products using up-to-date NMR techniques and mass spectrometry, profiling and quantitation (NMR & LC-MS) and the creation of corresponding databases.

Contribution of UoA to SECRETed project

  • WP3: Development of databases and tolls for molecular networks.
  • WP5 (leader): Analysis and quantification of targeted molecules/ Extraction, isolation and identification of molecules.
  • WP8, WP9 and WP10: participating in transversal tasks related with process assessment, exploitation-dissemination activities and project management.
Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

EKUT, founded in 1477, is one of the oldest and most respected universities in Germany. EKUT has proven its status as a leading research university in many national and international competitions with a particularly strong Life Science Research Area. Natural Products and related research areas represent a major research priority in EKUT. Basic, translational, and clinical research are closely connected and are indispensable for the development of diagnostics and therapy in almost all branches of today’s medicine. In EKUT, research in the field of medical technology and drug development is pursued with intramural and external funding from the Faculty of Medicine and the University Hospital and it is augmented by strong cooperation with key partners in industry and small/medium enterprises. The Ziemert lab (established in 2015) is interested in the evolution and distribution of bacterial secondary metabolites. These bioactive compounds are especially important in human medicine as the chemical scaffolds are the main templates for new drugs such as antibiotics and anticancer agents. The Ziemert lab is employed with a highly interdisciplinary and enthusiastic group at the interface of bioinformatics, molecular and environmental microbiology, and phylogenetics and currently undertakes the development of bioinformatic tools for the discovery of natural products from microbial genomes, elucidating the evolutionary history of their biosynthetic gene clusters and tracing their distribution in the environment.

Contribution of EKUT to SECRETed project

  • WP3: Bioinformatic genome mining for siderophore gene clusters, develop databases for siderophore and biosurfactants gene clusters, bioinformatic structural predictions, data management, metabolic profile identification.
Blue Synergy SL

BlueSyn emerged from the need of engaging long-term sustainability in the environmental and social domains with economic benefits for the stakeholders involved. The work of the company is focused on guiding our clients to increase their profitability while increasing its positive environmental and social impacts through efficient innovation. To achieve this goal, BlueSyn provides a wide range of solutions, as detailed below:

  • Climate change and sustainability services.
  • Sustainable Investments & Business case development.
  • Sustainable supply-chain management.
  • Sustainability communication.
  • Innovation and research projects for sustainable development.
  • Social impacts analysis.
  • Social acceptance analysis and social awareness campaigns.

BlueSyn has extensive background supporting organizations in addressing the environmental, social and economic impacts of their innovative processes and products. The company works with a wide range of partners, from technology developers to producers and end-users of innovations aimed to increase sustainability and from newcomers to pioneers that are looking for sustainable business models, products and technologies.

Contribution of BlueSyn to SECRETed project

  • WP8 (Leader): sustainability assessment of the proposed technologies including LCA, LCC and Social LCA; social acceptance of targeted products and technologies; consumer awareness strategies.
Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant

BBEPP is a flexible and diversified open access pilot plant for the development and scale up of new, bio-based processes. BBEPP is a not-for-profit SME, located in the port of Ghent (Belgium) with a myriad of pilot scale equipment for pre-treatment, fermentation, bio-catalysis, green chemistry and downstream purification. BBEPP is capable of scaling up and optimizing a broad variety of bio-based processes up to an industrial level (from 5L to 15m3 scale) and can perform the entire value chain, from the biological feedstocks up to the final product. The partner intends to close the gap in the innovation chain of the bio-based economy, bridging science and industrial production. The activities of BBEPP can be categorized in development of bio-based and sustainable processes (TRL 2-4), scale up (TRL 5-6), and pilot and demo production to allow market introduction (TRL 7-8). The team has an extensive expertise in pre-treatment of biomass, fermentation processes, biocatalysis, green chemistry, and the development of industrial recovery and purification techniques. In addition, BBEPP is a service provider to many companies in the biotech domain and bio-based economy. BBEPP operations are certified under ISO9001 and FSSC22000 (food-grade) and FDA approved.

Contribution of BBEPP to SECRETed project

  • WP5: developing (a) an optimal lab-scale fermentation process for biosurfactants and siderophores production; (b) an optimal lab-scale purification process for biosurfactants and siderophores; (c) analytical methods for the detection and quantification of selected biosurfactants and siderophores.
  • WP6 (leader): process optimization and scale-up towards pilot scale production including 150 L fermentations; upscaled purification processes (as dentified in WP5); delivery of end-products to end users in WP7.
Sphera Encapsulation SRL

SE is an innovative start-up and the first Italian company dedicated 100% to research and development in the field of encapsulation. Originally inspired by the scientific research conducted in the laboratory of Food Chemistry in the Department of Biotechnology, University of Verona, SE addresses important challenges of food sciences using the technology of encapsulation. SE is specialized in the design of encapsulated active molecules that are otherwise easily degradable, or that need to be released in a controlled manner. This brings to the realization of innovative products such as functional foods, supplements and nutraceuticals. The expertise accumulated led SE to enlarge its field of application to non-food purposes like cosmetics, agricultural and pharmaceutical. The heart of SE is a research group with 8 year of experience exclusively in the field encapsulation having collaborated with companies and research entities in research and scientific projects.

Contribution of SE to SECRETed project

  • WP5: surfactants and siderophores analysis to define physiochemical proprieties and binding properties enriching the database of natural functional molecules.
  • WP7 (leader): evaluating the potential use of identified biosurfactants in different encapsulation approaches and demonstrating the feasibility and efficacy of the processes in different industrial sectors.
Imperial College London

ICL is a public research university with over 17,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students. It is one of the world’s leading universities, offering degrees in the fields of science, engineering, medicine and business. Imperial’s research was also ranked as first in the country for its impact and has been listed in the top 10 universities in the world. ICL hosts the ICL Centre for Synthetic Biology and the EPRSC CDT in Biodesign Engineering. The Department of Life Sciences is able to provide unique access to a number of world leading facilities. The SECRETed project will benefit from the expertise at the Flow Cytometry Facility, which uses the latest equipment for cell sorting and analysis and the Mass Spectrometry facility, which provides leading expertise in analysis and quantitation of biomolecules including small metabolites. During the last years, ICL has spearheaded research on applications of Synthetic Biology ranging from the environment to human health with a strong focus on improving bioprocesses. In this sense, the development of the technologies proposed herein aim to be broadly applicable to many industrial biotechnology applications.

Contribution of ICL to SECRETed project

  • WP3: contributing to modelling efforts.
  • WP4: for the assembly, recombinant expression and optimisation of pathways in suitable organisms including fine tuning of gene expression levels accounting for culture conditions.
University of Sevilla

USE (established in 1505) is the third largest university in Spain. USE embraces academia, industry, engineering and science and is an intellectual reference in the South of Europe, with a relevant educational and technological infrastructure. The Microbial Biostabilizers group form part of the Microbiology and Parasitology Department and has extensive experience in the physiology and genetics of halophilic bacteria with biotechnological interest. The group has deep knowledge of molecular mechanisms of iron homeostasis and its relationship with osmoadaptation in halophilic bacteria. This includes the development of adapted protocols for detection of siderophores in this type of extremophiles. Its research is also focused in Systems Biology and Systems Metabolic engineering by development of genome-scale models (metabolic and regulatory) of halophilic bacteria for model-driven design of improved strains. Diverse multiomic techniques and their integrative analysis have been also tuned up. The USE team involves experts in genetic manipulation and development of genetic tools for halophilic bacteria study and strain optimization.

Contribution of USE to SECRETed project

  • WP2: advising in the screening methods optimization and finding halophilic natural producers of biosurfactants and siderophores.
  • WP3: implementing the designed genetic. combinations; advising in the development of model-driven design strain optimization.
  • WP2 & WP3: identification and characterization of biosynthetic pathways.
  • WP4 (leader): testing putative halophilic chassis and genetic tools; optimization of selected recombinant chassis by Systems metabolic engineering.
  • WP5: optimization of biocompounds characterization and production.
Lund University

LUND (founded in 1666) currently has 40,000 students and 7,400 coworkers at the sites in Lund, Helsingborg and Malmö. Concern for the environment is a core value, fitting excellently with the research focus of SECRETed project and the profile of Div. Biotechnology, which is part of the Engineering faculty at the University. Div. Biotechnolog focuses on sustainable development and technologies replacing the use of fossil carbon with renewable feedstocks. The main research focus of the group is on the development and characterization of carbohydrate modifying enzymes, microbial conversion and process development for refining second and third generation biomass, including carbohydrate utilization for the development of pre- and probiotics bioactives and biosurfactant production.

Contribution of LUND to SECRETed project

  • WP2 & WP5: screening microbial collections and lab-scale fermentation.
  • WP4: metabolic engineering of microbial chassis and testing genetic toolboxes to assess genetic tractability of selected bacteria. Flask strains cultivations for validation prior to production in larger scaled (bioreactors)

EXELISIS is an engineering-based consulting company located in Athens (Greece) created by a group of engineers and entrepreneurs with extensive experience in business development and innovation especially emphasizing in the materials and energy field. EXELISIS invests in providing “practical advice that flourish” to Small, Medium and Large Business Owners and Stakeholders. The portfolio of EXELISIS services includes Project and Innovation Management, Knowledge Transfer and Communication & Design and provision of professional assistance and services to its clients helping them improve their business perception by means of customizable strategies, tools and solutions. In addition, EXELISIS has considerable expertise in planning Dissemination and Communication activities such as the preparation of printed and digital dissemination material (websites, videos, leaflets, roll ups etc) aiming to communicate all project results to targeted audiences and stakeholders. The EXELISIS team consists of a mixture of business analysts, economists and engineers with business development background. The services portfolio target the fields of Business, Engineering, Bio Economy & Bio Technology, Waste and Recycling management, Sustainable agriculture and Circular economy.

Contribution of EXELISIS to SECRETed project

  • WP2, WP3, WP7-WP10: Identification of SECRETed Key Exploitable Results (KERs)
  • WP9 (leader): Continuously updated Plan for Exploitation and Dissemination of Results (PEDR); Dissemination and communication activities maximizing engagement of EU and public stakeholders; Clustering activities with other projects; patent search and IPR management

SYL is a Spanish pharmaceutical company, subsidiary of the Pharma Mar Group, focused on the development of innovative compounds based on RNA interference (RNAi) for the treatment of various diseases. Pharma Mar Group is focused on oncology and seeks for innovative products and tools to provide to healthcare professionals to treat cancer. RNA interference is a mechanism mediated by small-interference RNAs (siRNA) that allows for down-regulation of specific proteins through degradation of RNAs. SYL uses this mechanism for therapeutic purposes by developing compounds that down-regulate proteins that are key regulators of specific diseases. SYL is among the first companies to take RNAi to the clinic, with two programs addressed to ophthalmic diseases, glaucoma and Dry Eye Disease, in advanced clinical development and other diseases in earlier stages such as inflammatory diseases and cancer. SYL owns a powerful and versatile platform (Sirfinder) that allows the rational design of siRNAs in silico with a 360º strategy based on artificial intelligence. Sirfinder carries out its designs based on Machine Learning algorithms and is fed back with in vitro, in vivo, preclinical and clinical experimental data of the candidates that have been previously designed and for which we have safety and efficacy data in the different phases of drug development. Thanks to Sirfinder, SYL performs a quicker, cheaper and more effective drug discovery. SYL also holds facilities to manufacture medium-scale siRNA and to develop analytical methods and stability studies under GMP conditions (certificate by AEMPS) to characterize the selected siRNA candidate.

Contribution of SYL to SECRETed project

  • WP3, WP7, WP8: evaluate the efficacy and toxicology for further development of the formulations with RNA interference technology; assess both RNAi encapsulation and delivery features of selected formulations; carry out integrity, stability and loading studies for the formulations.