"With this new method, you don't get just one product, but many," she said. "This should help us to make large libraries of proteins, which we can use to rapidly screen new combinations. This powerful strategy generates libraries of repetitive genes over a wide range of molecular weights in a 'one-pot' parallel format."
Chilkoti compared it to sausage-making. Instead of stuffing the casings one-by-one individually, the new tool can rapidly stuff and stitch together long strings of sausages.
"This could help remove one of the biggest stumbling blocks we face in producing these drugs," Chilkoti said. "You can't make the proteins without genes, which act as the software directing the protein's production. Instead of building each sequence individually, as is done now, we can literally make hundreds, each with subtle differences."
The researchers used the system to synthesize genes found in two classes of protein-polymers. In the first, they produced protein-polymer combinations for elastin, a ubiquitous protein found in connective tissue. The researchers term them "smart" protein-polymers because they can be controlled by heat.
In the second set of experiments, they rapidly synthesized novel glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) analogs to show variable pharmokinetic properties. GLP-1 is a hormone that acts to release insulin in the body.
|Contact: Richard Merritt|