Researchers reveal new innovations in cell-free biotechnology
Researchers at Yale University and the Illinois Institute of Technology have developed a new way to manufacture proteins outside of a cell that could have important implications in therapeutics and biomaterials. The advance could make possible decentralized manufacturing and distribution processes for protein therapeutics that might, in the future, promote better access to costly drugs all over the world. The team set out to improve the quality of manufactured proteins in vitro, or outside a cell, and found success across a number of fronts. The results were published in Nature Communications recently.
Protein production plays a critical role in medicine, biotechnologies, and life sciences. Recombinant protein production. Conventionally, protein production has been accomplished in living cells in large centralized manufacturing facilities.
Without the worry of trying to keep a cell alive, this process opens up many possibilities, including the synthesis of new classes of enzymes, therapeutics, materials, and chemicals with diverse chemistry. A living cell may balk when asked to do something it hasn’t seen in its evolutionary biology, not so for a cell-free protein synthesis (CFPS) platform.
The problem is that, the efforts to use CFPS systems for expanding multiple non-canonical amino acids have been limited by competition with the natural machinery that terminates protein synthesis. As a result, manufacturing proteins harboring diverse chemistries with high purity and yields has presented a formidable challenge.
But the researchers produced the highest yields of proteins with non-canonical amino acids ever reported for in vitro systems, suggesting that long-term commercial applications for CFPS might be realistic.