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UCLA researchers develop way to strengthen proteins with polymers
Date:5/21/2012

Proteins are widely used as drugs insulin for diabetics is the best known example and as reagents in research laboratories, but they react poorly to fluctuations in temperature and are known to degrade in storage.

Because of this instability, proteins must be shipped and stored at regulated temperatures, resulting in increased costs, and sometimes must be discarded because their "active" properties have been lost. Manufacturers of protein drugs will generally add substances known as excipients, like polyethylene glycol, to the proteins to prolong their activity.

In a new study published in the Journal of the American Society of Chemistry (DOI: 10.1021/ja2120234), investigators from the UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA (CNSI) describe how they synthesized polymers to attach to proteins in order to stabilize them during shipping, storage and other activities. The study findings suggest that these polymers could be useful in stabilizing protein formulations.

The polymers consist of a polystyrene backbone and side chains of trehalose, a disaccharide found various plants and animals that can live for long periods with very little or no water. An example many people will recognize is Sea- Monkeys the 'novelty aquarium pet' introduced in 1962. SeaMonkeys can be purchased as kits that contain a white powder; when water is added, the powder becomes small shrimp whose long tails are said to resemble those of monkeys.

Trehalose is known to stabilize proteins when water is removed, and as a result, it is an additive in several protein drug formulations approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat cancer and other conditions.

"Our polymers were synthesized by a controlled radical polymerization technique called reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerization in order to have end groups that can attach to prote
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Contact: Jennifer Marcus
jmarcus@cnsi.ucla.edu
310-267-4839
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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