The trio further developed the new technology, creating cells with “excellent isoprene-synthesising capability” based on a new artificial pathway and highly active enzymes.
The cells created through the technology, said Yokohama, have the in-vivo capability of generating isoprene from a biomass – typically sugar. This serves as the starting material.
The in-vivo generated isoprene is then polymerised to achieve the synthesis of polyisoprene rubber.
Explaining the process, Yokohama said that it is widely understood that isoprene is produced naturally from mevalonic acid – an intermediate substance formed from sugar – through a five-stage reaction.
“But the new artificial pathway constructed through the joint research reduces that process to two stages,” said the Japanese tire and rubber company.
Yokohama also claims that the highly active enzymes possess “a phenomenal isoprene-producing capability that is not achievable by natural enzymes.”
"Introducing this artificial pathway and these enzymes into colon bacilli gives the bacteria an isoprene-generating ability that it lacks in nature and enables an efficient artificial synthesis of isoprene," added Yokohama.
The company has also confirmed that this technology can also be applied to butadiene-based synthetic rubber and other diene rubbers.