New technology enables fast protein synthesis

Thursday, May 28, 2020 - 13:30 in Biology & Nature

Many proteins are useful as drugs for disorders such as diabetes, cancer, and arthritis. Synthesizing artificial versions of these proteins is a time-consuming process that requires genetically engineering microbes or other cells to produce the desired protein. MIT chemists have devised a protocol to dramatically reduce the amount of time required to generate synthetic proteins. Their tabletop automated flow synthesis machine can string together hundreds of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, within hours. The researchers believe their new technology could speed up the manufacturing of on-demand therapies and the development of new drugs, and allow scientists to design artificial proteins by incorporating amino acids that don’t exist in cells. “You could design new variants that have superior biological function, enabled by using non-natural amino acids or specialized modifications that aren’t possible when you use nature’s apparatus to make proteins,” says Brad Pentelute, an associate professor of chemistry at MIT and...

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