Today’s system suffers from trial and error-based approach. With SUPERAP there is a solution for the industry.
Bacteria are widely used to produce therapeutic proteins such as insulin, growth hormones, vaccines and enzymes for use as drugs and proteins in household and food products.
The use of microorganisms (along with yeast, insects and plants) in protein production is among the fastest growing industries.
The bacteria’s DNA contain all the information for the bacteria to produce all their proteins. Bacteria can also function as a cell factory, by giving them a new DNA encoding for a particular protein of interest in combination with a DNA element that controls the protein production levels.
Rahmi Lale at the lab where SUPERAP has been developed.
Today’s protein production systems suffer from a so-called trial and error-based approach. This is a time-consuming process and often leads to sub-optimal protein production. Present technologies are also limited by the availability of a few bacterial hosts suitable for protein production. At the same time, the industry has the desire to produce many novel proteins, which cannot be realized due to lack of appropriate gene expression systems in their standard bacterial hosts. Therefore, the industry is looking for both new hosts and better and more cost-effective gene expression systems.
These are the industrial challenges that SUPERAP may overcome. Researchers Martin Hohmann-Marriott and Rahmi Lale at the Department of Biotechnology and Food Sciences, NTNU, have developed a fast and effective method based on a selection strategy rather than the present trial and error-based approach.
– They have managed to create a library of a large variety of DNA sequences with putative regulatory features. They use this library of DNA to control both the expression of genes and their corresponding protein production. Instead of changing the regulatory DNA sequences every time the expression of a gene is tested, they can test millions of sequences in one experiment, leading to identification of sequences that give the optimal protein production levels, says Gaute Brede, the project manager at NTNU TTO.
Researchers Rahmi Lale (left) and Martin Hohmann-Marriottat the Department of Biotechnology and Food Sciences, NTNU has developed SUPERAP that will enable the production of novel valuable proteins for new purposes.
The option of switching host organisms offer a great advantage
In addition to be a fast tracktechnology, SUPERAP makes it possible to choose different host organisms (currently bacteria and yeast) to find the most suitable host for a particular type of protein production.
“The method is unique, and we have now been able to test it with two commercial actors who produce both therapeutic and industrial proteins (enzymes),” says Rahmi Lale, who is also one of the researchers behind the patented technology licensed to Vectron BioSolutions AS, based in Trondheim.
We believe that SUPERAP will enable the production of novel valuable proteins for new purposes. Achieving this will also be less expensive than with other methods. The need for industrially produced proteins is growing and the inventors hope that their technology can quickly get into the market.
The researchers behind SUPERAP was previously granted the NTNU Discovery Pilot Project and now received funding for the NTNU Discovery Main Project. A patent covering the SUPERAP technology is filed, and the researchers are concurrently working on benchmarking with the two large industrial players.
SUPERAP; Stochastic Universal Protein Expression Reconnaissance and Application Platform