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Undergrad has sweet success with invention of artificial Golgi
Date:5/7/2008

e they are exposed to a variety of enzymes found in the natural Golgi. The resulting sugars can then be tested on living cells either on the chip or in the lab to determine their effects. With the chips ability to process many combinations of sugars and enzymes, it could help researchers quickly uncover new sugar-based drugs, according to Martin.

Scientists have known for years that certain sugars can serve as extremely beneficial therapeutics for humans. One well-known example is heparin, which is among the most widely used drugs in the world. Heparin is formed naturally in the Golgi organelle in cells of the human body as well as in other animals like pigs. Heparin acts as an anticoagulant preventing blood clots, which makes it a good therapeutic for heart, stroke, and dialysis patients.

The main source of heparin is currently the intestines of foreign livestock and, as recent news reports highlight, the risk of contamination from such sources is high. So researchers are working around the clock to develop a safer, man-made alternative to the drug that will prevent outside contamination. A synthetic alternative would build the sugar from scratch, helping eliminate the possibility of contamination he explained.

I am very grateful to have the privilege of working with Dr. Linhardt who has discovered the recipe to make fully synthetic heparin, Martin said. Because we know the recipe, I am going to use it as a model to test the device. If our artificial Golgi can build fully functional heparin, we can then use the artificial organelle to produce many different sugar variants by altering the combination of enzymes used to synthesize them. Another great thing about these devices is that they are of microscale size, so that if needed we could fill an entire room with them to increase throughput for drug discovery.

There are millions of possible sugar combinations that can be formed and scientists currently only know the function of v
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Contact: Gabrielle DeMarco
demarg@rpi.edu
518-276-6542
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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