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:6/25/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 , ... "With 30 ... their specific project," said Christina Austin - CEO of Pixel Film Studios. , ... and all within Final Cut Pro X . Simply select a ProHand generator ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... ... Conventional wisdom preaches the benefits of moderation, whether it’s a matter of ... too high can result in disappointment, perhaps even self-loathing. However, those who set the ... Research from PsychTests.com reveals that behind the tendency to set low expectations ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... Scientific Sessions in Dallas that it will receive two significant new grants to ... came as PHA marked its 25th anniversary by recognizing patients, medical professionals and ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... TX (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... People ... part in Genome magazine’s Code Talker Award, an essay contest in which patients and ... an award to be presented at the 2016 National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... , ... National recruitment firm Slone Partners is pleased to announce ... experience, as Vice President of North American Capital Sales at HTG Molecular . ... sales team in the commercialization of the HTG EdgeSeq system and associated reagents in ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... ANDOVER, Mass. and SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. ... California -based mobile pulmonary function testing company, is now ... portable PFT devices developed by ndd Medical Technologies , Inc. ... PFT testing done in hospital-based labs.  Thanks to ndd,s EasyOne PRO ... CA , can get any needed testing done in the ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... 2016  Arkis BioSciences, a leading innovator in ... durable cerebrospinal fluid treatments, today announced it has ... is led by Innova Memphis, followed by Angel ... investors.  Arkis, new financing will accelerate the commercialization ... release of its in-licensed Endexo® technology. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016  In a startling report released today, National ... by lacking a comprehensive, proven plan to eliminate prescription opioid overdoses. ... of how states are tackling the worst drug crisis in recorded ... – Kentucky , New Mexico ... . Of the 28 failing states, three – Michigan ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: