Yale scientists create new method to extend life of certain medicines

Doctor

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – A Yale research team has created a mutant protein-making factory in bacteria that can create longer-lasting medicines.

According to Yale officials, the mutant protein-making factory produces proteins containing beta-amino acids. The researchers designed a new ribosome, the cell’s protein making mechanism, that could insert a beta-amino acid into a growing peptide chain in bacteria.

“As far as we know, this is the first time that a protein containing a beta-amino acid has been produced by a cell,” said Yale’s Dr. Alanna Schepartz, senior author of the paper. “Bacteria that contain these factories may be able to make many unusual, useful new protein- or non-protein polymers-and then optimize their functions.”

‘Proteins containing beta-amino acids possess two properties that could contribute to the creation of longer-lasting and life-saving medicines,’ said Shepartz. ‘The first is stability: Beta-amino acid-containing proteins are less likely to degrade than those containing only naturally occurring alpha-amino acids, and this difference could translate into many advantages, including less-frequent dosing. The second property is the ability to either enhance or dampen the immune system response by design.’

‘This has the potential to enhance the characteristics of already approved, best-selling antibody- or protein-based drugs by extending their lifespan and preventing damaging immune system response,’ Schepartz said.

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