Biologics Production Made Simple

An international team of scientists has developed a platform that allows for biologics production, analysis and assembly into functional complexes.

AsianScientist (Dec. 11, 2019) – Turning bacteria into protein factories just got easier using a platform developed by researchers in China and the US. They published their work in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.

Bacteria are a common host for producing diverse biologics—drugs derived from living organisms. The synthesis of recombinant proteins using bacterial hosts entails multiple steps, including culturing, disruption and subsequent isolation and purification of the desired product.

For industrial operations, each step requires a sophisticated and delicate infrastructure to ensure efficiency and product quality. This process is critical for producing molecules in large amounts, but is not flexible or economically suited for small-scale production or characterization of diverse biologics.

In the present study, a team of scientists led by Professor You Lingchong of Duke University, US, and Associate Professor Dai Zhuojun of the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology, China, have developing a cell-material feedback platform that facilitates versatile production of biologics along with analysis and purification of diverse proteins and protein complexes.

“The core of our technology is a microbial swarmbot that consists of a stimulus-sensitive polymeric microcapsule encapsulating engineered bacteria. By sensing confinement, the bacteria undergo programmed partial lysis at high local density,” said Dai. “Furthermore, the encapsulating material shrinks in response to the changing chemical environment caused by cell growth, thus squeezing out the protein products released from bacterial lysis.”

This platform is then integrated with downstream modules to enable quantification of enzymatic kinetics, purification of diverse proteins, quantitative control of protein interactions and assembly of functional protein complexes and multi-enzyme metabolic pathways.

The researchers note that their study demonstrates how cell-material feedback can be used to engineer a modular and flexible platform with sophisticated and well-defined programmed functions. Their technique and findings could be useful for personalized drug synthesis and accessible biomanufacturing in remote areas.

The article can be found at: Dai et al. (2019) Versatile Biomanufacturing Through Stimulus-responsive Cell–material Feedback.


Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences.
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