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:11/19/2015)... MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. , Nov. 19, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... authentication market, Frost & Sullivan recognizes BIO-key with the ... Strategy Leadership. Each year, Frost & Sullivan presents this ... comprehensive product line catering to the needs of the ... which the product line meets and expands on customer ...
(Date:11/17/2015)... , November 17, 2015 Paris ...   --> Paris from 17 th ... DERMALOG, the biometrics innovation leader, has invented the first combined ... on the same scanning surface. Until now two different scanners ... one scanner can capture both on the same surface. ...
(Date:11/16/2015)... , Nov 16, 2015  Synaptics Inc. ... human interface solutions, today announced expansion of its ... ™ touch controller and display driver integration ... of smartphones. These new TDDI products add to ... (HD resolution), TD4302 (WQHD resolution), and TD4322 (FHD ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... A long-standing partnership between ... (OPBAP) has been formalized with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding. , ... leaders Capt. Karl Minter and Capt. Albert Glenn Tuesday, November 24, 2015, at ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... were featured on AngelList early in their initial angel funding process. Now, they ... for individuals looking to make early stage investments in the microbiome space. ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015 Cepheid (NASDAQ: CPHD ) ... the following conference, and invited investors to participate via ...      Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 11.00 a.m. Eastern ...      Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 11.00 a.m. Eastern ... New York, NY      Tuesday, December 1, ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... Copper is an essential micronutrient ... to proteins, copper is also toxic to cells. With a $1.3 million award ... will conduct a systematic study of copper in the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: