AUG 11, 2020 11:04 PM PDT

Engineering Drug-Producing Bacteria

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Researchers at Rice University worked to program a bacterium, Escherichia coli, to produce a synthetic "noncanonical amino acid” that can eventually produce novel proteins for therapeutics.

"The process requires a lot of interdisciplinary techniques," says Rice University chemist, Han Xiao. "In this study, we combined synthetic chemistry, synthetic biology and metabolic engineering to create a strain that synthesizes and encodes a 21st noncanonical amino acid, and then uses it to produce the desired protein."

Findings were published in the Cell Press journal Chem and describes how bacteria was engineered to produce an extra amino acid, 5-hydroxyl-tryptophan (5HTP). The novel product, 5HTP, can possibly serve as the precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin.

"These 5HTP-containing proteins, isolated from the programmed bacteria, can be further labeled with drugs or other molecules," Xiao said. "Here, we show the strain itself can serve as a living indicator for reactive oxygen species, and the detection limit is really low."

Learn more about engineering bacteria:

"This has been an ongoing field for decades, but previously people focused on the chemical part," Xiao said. "Our vision is to engineer whole cells with the 21st amino acid that will let us investigate biological or medical problems in living organisms, rather than just dealing with cells in the lab.

"Moving this technology to the host species eliminates the need to inject artificial building blocks into an organism because they can synthesize and use it on their own," he said. "That allows us to study noncanonical amino acids at a higher, whole organism level."

Source: Science Daily

 

About the Author
  • Nouran earned her BS and MS in Biology at IUPUI and currently shares her love of science by teaching. She enjoys writing on various topics as well including science & medicine, global health, and conservation biology. She hopes through her writing she can make science more engaging and communicable to the general public.
You May Also Like
SEP 27, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
How Spiders May Open a Path to IBS Treatment
SEP 27, 2020
How Spiders May Open a Path to IBS Treatment
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is term that describes a gut disorder that causes abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhea or c ...
OCT 05, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
Fecal Transplants Could Restore Cognitive Function in the Elderly
OCT 05, 2020
Fecal Transplants Could Restore Cognitive Function in the Elderly
An international team of researchers has found that fecal transplants could one day be used to restore cognitive functio ...
OCT 16, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
FDA Warns Against NSAIDs After Week 20 of Pregnancy
OCT 16, 2020
FDA Warns Against NSAIDs After Week 20 of Pregnancy
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned against using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) from 20 ...
OCT 22, 2020
Neuroscience
Placebos Impact Brain Patterns for Emotional Processing
OCT 22, 2020
Placebos Impact Brain Patterns for Emotional Processing
Researchers from Michigan State University have found that placebos reduce markers of emotional distress- even when the ...
OCT 06, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
Drug For A Severe E. Coli Infection
OCT 06, 2020
Drug For A Severe E. Coli Infection
Escherichia coli, known as E. coli, is a popular bacterium associated with food poisoning and depending on the strain ca ...
NOV 15, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
Antidepressant May Prevent Worsening of COVID-19 Infections
NOV 15, 2020
Antidepressant May Prevent Worsening of COVID-19 Infections
  Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that fluvoxamine, a common ...
Loading Comments...