GlycoPRIME: Accelerating Protein Therapeutic Development

Technology Networks | November 28, 2019

GlycoPRIME: Accelerating Protein Therapeutic Development
Glycosylation -- the attachment of sugars to proteins -- plays a critical role in both cellular function and in the development of therapeutics, like vaccines. But because researchers have used mammalian cells to create the biosynthetic pathways (sets of enzyme catalysts) to build and study these sugar structures, the process has historically taken a long time and has required specialized laboratory equipment. Northwestern Engineering researchers have now developed a quick, cell-free system to build and study these pathways. Called GlycoPRIME, the system could lead to faster development of therapeutics and a new, modular way to make medicines on demand in resource-limited settings. "This is an exciting new method that accelerates the design and engineering of potential medicines and vaccines using glycosylation," said Michael Jewett, the Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence, professor of chemical and biological engineering, and director of Northwestern's Center for Synthetic Biology, who led the research. "It's opening a new book to engineer proteins not seen in nature with specific applications."

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Access to medicines for cancer patients is crucial for providing high quality care. However, cancer medicines shortages are a problem affecting countries across Europe. These shortages occur when the supply of medicines, identified as essential by the health system, is insufficient to meet public health and patient needs.

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