DURHAM, NC Duke University bioengineers have developed a new method for rapidly producing an almost unlimited variety of man-made DNA sequences.
These novel sequences of recombinant DNA are used to produce repetitive proteins to create new types of drugs and bioengineered tissues. Current methods for producing these DNA sequences are slow or not robust, the researchers said, which has hindered the development of these increasingly important new classes of protein-based polymers.
Researchers have already demonstrated that when a large protective macromolecule known as a polymer is attached to a protein, it greatly improves effectiveness and allows the protein to remain active in the bloodstream longer. There are many protein-polymer based medications in use today, such as human growth hormones, drugs to stimulate blood cell formation in cancer patients and anti-viral agents.
"This new technique should be very useful in making a practically unlimited number of these protein building blocks," said Ashutosh Chilkoti, Theo Pilkington Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering. The results of the Duke team's experiment were published online in the journal Nature Materials. Graduate students Miriam Amiram and Felipe Garca Quiroz, working in Chilkoti's lab, were co-first authors of this paper.
"Depending on how complicated you want the polymer sequence to be, there are an infinite number of combinations you could make," Chilkoti said. "We haven't even begun to look at all the sequences that can be made or the unique properties they might have."
The researchers call the new process overlap-extension rolling circle amplification, and it is a modification of existing technologies. Because of this, they said that other laboratories would not need major investments in new equipment or materials.
"A very popular method for making tandem copies of DNA sequences involves inserting
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