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Biologists engineer algae to make complex anti-cancer 'designer' drug
Date:12/10/2012

ents suffering from pulmonary emphysemacould be produced in algae. (http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/newsrel/science/03-08TherapeuticProteins.asp)

Then in May of this year, Mayfield's group working with another team headed by Joseph Vinetz from UC San Diego's School of Medicine, engineered algae to produce an even more complex proteina new kind of vaccine that, preliminary experiments suggest, could protect billions of people from malaria, one of the world's most prevalent and debilitating diseases. (http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/pressreleases/uc_san_diego_biologists_produce_potential_malarial_vaccine_from_algae/)

"What the development of the malarial vaccine showed us was that algae could produce proteins that were really complex structures, containing lots of disulfide bonds that would still fold into the correct three-dimensional structures," said Mayfield. "Antibodies were the first sophisticated proteins we made. But the malarial vaccine is complex, with disulfide bonds that are pretty unusual. So once we made that, we were convinced we could make just about anything in algae."

In their latest development, the scientists genetically engineered algae to produce a complex, three-dimensional protein with two "domains"one of which contains an antibody, which can home in on and attach to a cancer cell and another domain that contains a toxin that kills the bound cancer cells. Such "fusion proteins" are presently created by pharmaceutical companies in a complex, two-step process by first developing the antibody domain in a Chinese hamster, or CHO, cell. The antibody is purified, then chemically attached to a toxin outside of the cell. Then the final protein is repurified.

"We have a two-fold advantage over that process," said Ma
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Contact: Kim McDonald
kmcdonald@ucsd.edu
858-534-7572
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert

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