Navigation Links
Researchers genetically engineer micro-organisms into tiny factories
Date:9/18/2007

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Microorganisms may soon be efficiently and inexpensively producing novel pharmaceutical compounds, such as flavonoids, that fight aging, cancer or obesity, as well as high-value chemicals, as the result of research being conducted by University at Buffalo researchers.

In work that could transform radically the ways in which many of these compounds are produced commercially, the UB researchers are genetically engineering microorganisms, such as E. coli, into tiny, cellular factories. Several patents related to this work have been filed by UB. The team also is in discussions with companies in the U.S. and abroad.

First Wave Technologies, Inc., a technology development company based in UBs New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, which is collaborating with the UB group, recently received a highly competitive Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Science Foundation to focus on the biosynthesis of a popular group of flavonoids called isoflavonoids.

Ultimately, we want to be able to take a designed E. coli off of the shelf and drop into it the enzymes that constitute a particular biosynthetic pathway in order to make exactly the product we want, said Mattheos A. G. Koffas, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and leader of the UB team.

The UB approach to synthetic chemistry addresses some of the major challenges in conventional industrial production of specialty chemicals.

Through the use of specially adapted bacteria, specialized enzymes and natural feedstocks, microbial biosynthesis reduces or eliminates the need for petrochemical sources, elevated temperatures, toxic heavy metal catalysts, extremes of acidity and dangerous solvents, Koffas said.

In addition, the natural enzymes the UB researchers are using can facilitate chemical reactions that are difficult to accomplish through conventional chemistry, such as chiral synthesis, glycosylations and targeted hydroxylations, common but challenging steps in many syntheses.

We are finding out how we can actually train microbial systems to produce high yields of chemicals to be used as pharmaceuticals and to make production processes more efficient, less expensive and more environmentally friendly, Koffas said.

As with any commercial endeavor, process efficiency is a critical concern, he noted.

In work published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology in June, Koffas and his colleagues produced about 400 milligrams of flavonoids per liter of cell culture, far above the next highest yield of about 20 milligrams per liter produced by other microbial synthesis efforts.

We have done this by increasing the amount of precursor available and re-engineering the native microbial metabolism, he explained, adding that they have taken different approaches to identifying the pathways that lead to the biosynthesis of precursors for desired compounds.

Further improvement of production yields are possible and various approaches are being pursued by our team at this time, he said.

Another major challenge for microbial biosynthesis is that the enzymes required for certain chemical steps have special requirements that the host cell cannot meet efficiently, Koffas said. In some cases, the enzyme needs to be re-engineered, while in others the host cell needs modification.

Koffas lab recently achieved the functional expression in E. coli of P450 monooxygenases, enzymes that are used widely in nature, but are not readily expressed in most industrially important microorganisms.

P450 is very important in the synthesis of natural products, said Koffas. For example, both Taxol, the breast cancer drug that is currently produced from plant cultures, and artemisinin, the anti-malaria drug, have P450 enzymes in their biosynthetic pathways.

The Koffas lab has introduced ways to modify both the P450 monooxygenase enzymes and the host cell, thereby improving their yield of flavonoids.

Microbial biosynthesis methods also are making it easier to create analogs of existing drugs, as well as new molecules for a broad range of therapeutics.

The UB researchers are particularly interested in developing novel molecules that can be used to treat chronic diseases, such as type II diabetes and obesity.

They also are using the methods to produce specialty compounds, such as natural pigments, that could replace chemical dyes in food.

Koffas goal is to employ these microbial synthesis methods for a wide variety of applications.

Flavonoids, which are of interest to pharmaceutical companies because of their antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic properties, are difficult to produce using currently available methods.

Microbial synthesis strategies also are being adapted by the UB researchers for the biosynthesis of other commercially significant classes of compounds, including vitamins, anti-cancer drugs, anti-parasitic drugs, dyes and food supplements.

The UB group is working on boosting yields further and hopes to achieve pilot scale production of flavonoids by the end of this year.


'/>"/>

Contact: Ellen Goldbaum
goldbaum@buffalo.edu
716-645-5000 x1415
University at Buffalo
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Researchers urge caution in using ear tube surgery
2. Researchers Scale to assess the Severity of Epilepsy in Kids
3. Researchers identify the early makers of Neonatal Sepsis
4. OHSU Researchers Announce New Discovery
5. Researchers Identify Gene Connected To Bipolar Disorder
6. Ecstasy shrinks brain!!-researchers unveil the secrets of MDMA.
7. Researchers trick Alzheimers Enzyme
8. Researchers find new HIV hiding place
9. Gene researchers make Malaria-resistant mosquito
10. New Hair in 15 Days Could Now Be A Possibility Say Researchers
11. Researchers developed world’s smallest toothbrus
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/12/2016)... Boca Raton, FL (PRWEB) , ... February 12, ... ... nation’s largest non-profit organization devoted exclusively to funding innovative lymphoma research and serving ... patient services – hosted over 250 members of South Florida’s philanthropic community at ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Each year, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) offers a ... Anaheim Convention Center. Almost 10,000 physical therapists across the country are expected to attend ... about their chosen field and network with their colleagues. As in years past, ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... ... February 12, 2016 , ... ... nominations have closed for the ISE Southeast Awards 2016. Finalists and winners of ... the ISE® Southeast Executive Forum and Awards Gala on March 15, 2016 at ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... ... February 12, 2016 , ... Every winter, someone is killed, injured or loses ... Penn Burn Center, part of the Allegheny Health Network, has partnered with Etna ... “Space Heaters Need Space” campaign. , “Space Heaters Need Space” aims to ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... ... , ... The Jones Agency, a family owned insurance company with offices serving ... charity drive with the Tarrant Area Food Bank in the hopes of alleviating hunger ... need, the Tarrant County Food Bank offers hope and security to the one in ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:2/12/2016)... Feb. 12, 2016  Aralez Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Nasdaq: ... the Company will ring the Nasdaq Closing Bell at ... York at 4:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, ... Adrian Adams , will perform the ... to 4:00 p.m. ET.  A live webcast will be ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... BUDAPEST , Ungarn, February 12, 2016 ... ein Medizintechnikunternehmen, das sich auf den ungedeckten ... gab heute positive Ergebnisse seines klinischen Forschungsprogramms ... und Asthma-Patienten beschäftigt, ergab Verbesserungen ihrer respiratorischen ... Indiso ltd , ein Medizintechnikunternehmen, das ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... LONDON , Feb. 11, 2016 Stem ... that are characterized by self-renewal and the capacity to ... a relatively new discovery, as the first mouse embryonic ... it was not until 1995 that the first culturing ... pluripotent stem cells were not produced until 2006 As ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: