Navigation Links
Iowa State chemist synthesizes carbohydrates, launches startup company

AMES, Iowa Carbohydrates are part of our daily vocabulary. We all know they're part of a healthy diet. We know they're in breads and pastas. We know they have something to do with starches and sugars. But, even though carbohydrates are so familiar, there's still a lot for science to learn about them.

"Our knowledge of carbohydrates is still in its infancy," said Nikki Pohl, an Iowa State University associate professor of chemistry. Pohl said there's more to learn about carbohydrates because it's very difficult to synthesize specific carbohydrate molecules for study. To date, that's been a slow, labor-intensive and expensive practice.

But Pohl thinks she's found a solution. She's developed a synthesis technology that's predictable, automated and much more efficient. It can even handle the production of complex carbohydrate molecules with multiple branches and long chains of sugars.

The Iowa State University Research Foundation Inc. has filed for a patent of Pohl's technology.

She says her process can fabricate a custom-order, complex carbohydrate molecule in 24 hours. Current commercial technology requires six to 12 months for the same molecule at a cost that can be 10 times higher than Pohl's technology.

Pohl has launched a startup company called LuCELLa Biosciences Inc. to license the technology and use it to produce and market carbohydrate molecules for researchers at universities, government agencies and private pharmaceutical companies. The company is now located in the Roy J. Carver Co-Laboratory on the Iowa State campus.

Pohl is developing her technology and advancing the startup company with the help of a $66,477 grant from the Grow Iowa Values Fund, a state economic development program.

Beatrice Collet, the principal scientist for LuCELLa and a former post-doctoral researcher in Pohl's Iowa State lab, said the company plans to develop an online catalog and begin selling carbohydrates by the end of the year.

Collet said there's a need for the company's custom-order carbohydrates.

"A lot of basic research needs to be done on carbohydrates and their interactions with cells," she said. "Carbohydrates are involved in a lot of biological processes and it's still unclear exactly how they work."

And what would a better understanding produce?

Pohl said possible applications include new vaccines, new diagnostic tests for illnesses and better bio-based products.

When she talks about the new technology, Pohl likes to contrast it with studies of DNA. The ability to synthesize custom strands of proteins and nucleic acid for lab research has advanced and accelerated DNA studies.

Researchers predicted similar synthesis technologies would also work for carbohydrates, even though their structures are more complex. But researchers haven't been able to transfer three decades of DNA work into technologies that efficiently synthesize carbohydrates.

"Today biologists can mostly only dream about experiments that explore the structure and function relationships of carbohydrates for vaccine design and other more basic studies," Pohl said. "These are the types of experiments biologists now take for granted with nucleic acids and proteins."

Pohl said there's enough demand for custom-order carbohydrates and enough potential to apply research findings to eventually grow LuCELLa's sales to $20 million and higher.


Contact: Nikki Pohl
Iowa State University

Related biology news :

1. Obesity and the central nervous system -- the state of the art
2. University of Minnesota study refutes belief that black men have more aggressive prostate cancer
3. Iowa State University conference examines developing bioeconomy
4. University and state agencies to forecast local health effects of climate change
5. K-State Veterinary Lab routinely tests for bluetongue virus
6. New prostate cancer research findings
7. Iowa State professors genome research published in the latest issue of Science
8. Leading researchers to reveal comprehensive dos and donts for prostate cancer
9. K-State chemistry professor to receive Masao Horiba award
10. K-State sociologists use Department of Energy grant
11. NIH grants $33 M in institutional development awards to 3 states
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Iowa State chemist synthesizes carbohydrates, launches startup company
(Date:5/12/2016)... , a brand of Troubadour ... from the Q1 wave of its quarterly wearables survey. ... receptivity to a program where they would receive discounts ... company. "We were surprised to see that ... LaColla , CEO of Troubadour Research, "primarily because there ...
(Date:5/3/2016)...  Neurotechnology, a provider of high-precision biometric identification ... Identification System (ABIS) , a complete system for ... can process multiple complex biometric transactions with high ... face or iris biometrics. It leverages the core ... MegaMatcher Accelerator , which have been used in ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... , April 28, 2016 First quarter ... (139.9), up 966% compared with the first quarter of 2015 ... totaled SEK 589.1 M (loss: 18.8) and the operating margin was ... (loss: 0.32) Cash flow from operations was SEK 249.9 ... 2016 revenue guidance is unchanged, SEK 7,000-8,500 M. The ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - FACIT ... Ontario biotechnology company, Propellon Therapeutics ... development and commercialization of a portfolio of first-in-class ... Epigenetic targets such as WDR5 represent an exciting ... significantly in precision medicine for cancer patients. Substantial ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Charm ... Mold) microbial test has received AOAC Research Institute approval 061601. , “This is ... last year,” stated Bob Salter, Vice President of Regulatory and Industrial Affairs. “The ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016   EpiBiome , a precision ... million in debt financing from Silicon Valley Bank (SVB). ... and to advance its drug development efforts, as well ... "SVB has been an incredible strategic partner ... a traditional bank would provide," said Dr. Aeron ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... , ... In a new case report published today in STEM CELLS Translational ... lymphedema after being treated for breast cancer benefitted from an injection of stem cells ... this debilitating, frequent side effect of cancer treatment. , Lymphedema refers to ...
Breaking Biology Technology: