Scientists Modified Bacteria to Stop Using Animals to Make Drugs

The researchers modified E. coli to produce chondroitin sulfate, a complex sugar. He

best known as a dietary supplement for the treatment of arthritis. Now it is obtained from the trachea of ​​cows.

Genetically modified Escherichia coliused in many medicines. However, scientists took years to get bacteria to produce even the simplest bound sugar molecules in this class - sulfated glycosaminoglycans. They are often used as medicines and nutraceuticals.

Develop E.coli to make these molecules is not an easy task, and we had to make a lot of changes and balance them in order for the bacteria to grow well. But this work shows that it is possible to produce these polysaccharides using E. coli without using animals. In addition, the procedure can be expanded to produce other sulfated glycosaminoglycans.

Matteos Koffas, Principal Investigator and Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the Rensselaer Polytechnic.

The creation of E. coli for the production of a drug has many advantages over the current extraction process or even the chemoenzymatic process.

Scientists first created the structure of the enzyme, andthen used an algorithm to help identify the mutations they could make to the enzyme to create a stable version that would work with E. coli.

Although modified E. coli givesrelatively small yields - on the order of micrograms per liter - they thrive in normal laboratory conditions, which is a compelling proof of concept.

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Glycosaminoglycans, mucopolysaccharides - carbohydratepart of proteoglycans, polysaccharides, which include amino sugar-hexosamines. In the body, glycosaminoglycans are covalently bound to the protein part of proteoglycans and are not found in free form.