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Defending against chemical acts of terrorism
Date:6/8/2012

ions into the gene encoding a target enzyme, in this case PON1. The mutated versions of the gene are then put back into bacteria, which produce the enzymes for testing. The goal was to end up with enzymes capable of detoxifying G-type nerve agents before those nerve agents could reach their target and cause harm. Those that passed the initial test went on to further rounds of evolution and testing.

After four rounds of evolution, the researchers obtained PON1 variants that worked up to 340 times better than those produced previously. Overall, the researches reported that the PON1 variants showed 40- to 3,400-fold higher efficiency than the normal enzyme in metabolizing the three most toxic G-type nerve agents.

These new and improved PON1 enzymes have become promising candidates for use as preventive and postexposure treatments in the event of a terrorist attack.

"We hope that our enzymes would be able to act together with currently available drugs to improve survival rates following intoxication," Goldsmith said. More broadly, the findings show the power of laboratory evolution to completely reshape existing enzymes for a variety of uses.


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Contact: Elisabeth (Lisa) Lyons
elyons@cell.com
617-386-2121
Cell Press
Source:Eurekalert

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