Protein Evolution, Inc. and Basecamp Research Aim to Make Polyurethane and Nylon Infinitely Recyclable with Expanded Strategic Collaboration

The companies will develop novel enzymes that break down difficult-to-recycle plastic waste to solve a major bottleneck in the fashion industry

NEW HAVEN, Conn., Jan. 24, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today, Protein Evolution, Inc., a biological recycling company working to decarbonize plastic production, and Basecamp Research, the world leader in mapping biodiversity data for AI biodesign, announced an expanded collaboration around enzyme development to help eliminate global polyurethane and polyamide (nylon) waste.

Protein Evolution’s Biopure™ technology uses AI-designed enzymes to currently break down polyester waste and transform it into the building blocks of new polyester. By leveraging Basecamp Research’s biodiversity mapping system, Protein Evolution will unlock previously inaccessible enzymes to break down polyurethane and polyamide waste. These complex materials significantly hamper the pursuit of circularity in both the fashion industry and several other sectors. Polyurethane, commonly found in products like spandex, mattresses, sofas, car seats, and insulation panels, poses a substantial recycling challenge. Similarly, polyamide is used in athleisure, fishing nets, and various other technical products. Together, these materials account for a notable 10 percent of global plastic production. Their complex composition makes them notoriously difficult to recycle, leading to their accumulation in landfills and incinerators.

“Up until now, the biological recycling of polyamide and polyurethane waste has only been explored in the lab. This collaboration with Basecamp Research will change that,” said Connor Lynn, Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer of Protein Evolution, Inc. “Our Biopure technology provides a viable solution for petrochemical companies, manufacturers and brands as we work to meet global decarbonization goals and lessen the burden of fashion waste on our planet.”

The strategic collaboration between Protein Evolution and Basecamp Research will focus on designing novel enzymes that can break down the long chemical chains of polyurethane and nylon into their constituent precursor molecules. In addition to being fully circular, textile and plastic products made from these recycled ingredients will have a significantly lower carbon footprint as no further fossil fuels are added, while maintaining the quality and strength of virgin plastic.

“We’re thrilled to be a foundational technology partner for Protein Evolution’s ambitious vision for a decarbonized plastics industry, which has already captured the attention of numerous leading brands,” said Dr. Glen Gowers, Co-Founder of Basecamp Research. “Our teams share the same belief that nature is our best inspiration for solving our planet’s most pressing challenges. We cannot wait to combine our highly complementary technologies and dive further into Basecamp Research’s unrivaled map of microbial biodiversity to supercharge Protein Evolution’s development and scale-up of enzymatic plastic recycling processes.”

Basecamp Research has a unique advantage when designing enzymes to degrade man-made materials, as their global research team and biodiversity partners are constantly and intentionally sampling in environments that are understudied and industrially relevant, including contaminated soils and waters. With over six billion relationships between genes, genomes, environments, and other biologically relevant data in Basecamp Research’s map of biodiversity, their AI platform draws on comprehensive real-world data to predict the physical and functional properties of their designed proteins.

By combining Basecamp Research’s platform with Protein Evolution’s scale-up expertise, this collaboration will accelerate the development timelines of novel enzymes for biological recycling from years to months.

About Protein Evolution, Inc.
Protein Evolution, Inc. leverages biology to help the chemicals and materials industries transition to a lower-carbon, circular economy. The company was founded in 2021 by entrepreneur Connor Lynn and Dr. Jonathan Rothberg, a world-renowned scientist, entrepreneur and National Medal of Technology and Innovation recipient. The company’s first product is Biopure™: a biological recycling process that enables textile and plastic waste to become an infinitely reusable resource. Based in New Haven, Conn., Protein Evolution has partnerships with ESPCI Paris, the Joint-BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), Fashion for Good, and 4Catalyzer, a life sciences accelerator dedicated to making a global impact through bold innovations in medicine, engineering, machine learning, life sciences and biotech.

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About Basecamp Research
Basecamp Research is the world leader in mapping biodiversity for AI-based protein design. We match and refine novel proteins for our partners’ exact industrial, therapeutic or diagnostic applications using BaseGraph™, a new-generation of AI-design that is powered by the first ever high-resolution map of global genetic biodiversity. Understanding the full genetic, evolutionary and environmental context of each protein allows Basecamp Research to design process-ready enzymes for specific reactions without the need for expensive and time-consuming directed evolution campaigns. We’re a team of explorers, scientists and policy experts driven by our ambition to protect and learn from nature’s diversity, whilst delivering life-changing breakthroughs to those who need them most.

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