In April 2023, the Enzyme Manufacturing Masterclass (EMM2023) welcomed its inaugural cohort of participants hailing from Kenya and Ethiopia. With Kenyatta University as its vibrant backdrop, this innovative course, hosted by Beneficial Bio Ltd (UK) in collaboration with ISAAA AfriCenter and esteemed partners, proved to be an exhilarating and transformative experience for all involved.

Immersed in a week of hands-on learning, the participants embarked on a remarkable journey that would revolutionize their understanding and expertise in enzyme production techniques. Using accessible resources and standard laboratory equipment, they delved into the intricate world of molecular biology. Through practical exercises, they discovered how to create DNA polymerases for PCR, a powerful laboratory technique used for diagnostics and research. From the fundamental principles of biology to the complexities of genetic engineering and recombinant protein production, the participants embarked on an educational adventure that broadened their horizons and (re)ignited their scientific passion.

However, not everything was about biology – participants learned the value of patience in the face of scientific endeavours, understanding that setbacks and challenges are inherent in the pursuit of knowledge. By creatively troubleshooting experiments and persevering, success ultimately emerges. Moreover, the masterclass nurtured a spirit of curiosity, driven by the possibilities that lie within using local products, reagents, and cost-effective laboratory equipment.

The masterclass served not only as a place to share knowledge but also to foster connections among participants. Collaboration flourished throughout the groups, which had been assigned based on their prior experience and expertise in molecular biology, encouraging dynamic interactions and the exchange of ideas. As they engaged with their peers, they discovered the transformative power of collective wisdom and the profound impact that passion and networking can have on scientific breakthroughs. By the end of the masterclass, participants were united by a renewed sense of motivation, poised to embark on a journey of scientific discovery and innovation.

While nurturing scientific excellence was key, the masterclass sought to introduce participants to the concept of bio-entrepreneurship—a realm where scientific knowledge and innovation seamlessly merge with business understanding. This holistic approach aimed to equip participants with the skills needed to translate their scientific expertise into viable commercial ventures. By bridging the gap between scientific knowledge and economic success, the masterclass opened doors to a sustainable future where biotechnology can thrive, benefitting the many rather than the few.

The ultimate goal of the Enzyme Manufacturing Masterclass was to overcome the longstanding challenges researchers and bio-entrepreneurs face in low and medium-income countries—namely, the scarcity and cost of imported reagents and equipment. Historically, these individuals have been heavily reliant on manufacturers in more affluent nations. However, armed with open-source protocols and skills acquired during the masterclass, the participants now possess the tools to produce enzymes locally. This newfound capability instils hope, paving the way for greater self-sufficiency and independence, spurring innovation and advancement within their own communities.

The resounding success of EMM2023 marks the beginning of a transformative movement—one that aims to unlock the true potential of molecular biology and foster progress and innovation. As the participants step into the forefront of this remarkable journey, their knowledge and skills hold the power to reverberate throughout the scientific community, not only in East Africa but across the globe. As the torch of knowledge is passed on, future specialized masterclasses will continue to ignite a spark within aspiring biotechnologists, propelling us closer to a future where scientific exploration knows no bounds. We eagerly await to see this knowledge ripple through the scientific community in East Africa and beyond.


Rita Dias

Beneficial Bio Ltd