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Engineered Bacteria Produce Low Cost Drugs

23 September 2019
Giulio Prisco

Pharmaceutical Lab

Bacteria are commonly used to produce biologics, which are products like vaccines, gene therapies, and proteins that are created or synthesized from biological sources. A new technology for biologics uses engineered bacterial "swarmbots" (see below) to achieve versatile production, analysis, and purification of diverse proteins and protein complexes.

"It's a very compact process. You don't need electricity, and you don't need a centrifuge to produce and isolate these proteins," said research leader Lingchong You, a professor of biomedical engineering at Duke University. "It makes this a good platform for biomanufacturing. You have the ability to produce a certain type of medicine in a very compact format at a low cost, and it's easy to deliver. On top of that, this platform offers an easy way to produce multiple proteins simultaneously."

"This technology is incredibly versatile," added You. "That's a capability we want to take advantage of."

Engineered bacteria create biological drugs. Biomedical engineers at Duke University have developed a new platform to create biological drugs using specially-engineered bacteria, called "swarmbots," which burst and release useful proteins when they sense that their capsule is becoming too crowded. This self-contained platform, described in a research paper published in Nature Chemical Biology, could make it easier for researchers to create, analyze, and purify diverse biologics for use in small-scale biomanufacturing.

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