Making sugary biologics on demand
Updated: May 10, 2020
Cell-free glycoprotein synthesis platform enables creation of potent glycomedicines in a single pot with potential for small batch, decentralized biomanufacturing
On-demand biomanufacturing seeks to make it easier and cheaper to provide biologics around the globe. Most efforts, including those of the DeLisa group, are focused on designing cell-free systems because of their ability to work in a multitude of environments. But cell-free systems face challenges. Many protein therapeutics are decorated with sugars, also called glycans or glycosyl groups, that are hard for cell-free systems to add. Earlier this year, a team led by current DLRG member Thapakorn Jaroentomeechai and former DLRG undergraduate Jessica Stark (CBE ’12), now a Ph.D. student in the Jewett group at Northwestern, reported a method for getting E. coli cell-free extracts to add sugars to proteins in a single reaction mixture (Nat. Commun. 2018, DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-05110-x). That work was recently highlighted in two separate news stories in Chemical & Engineering News (C&E News), including one focused on emerging efforts to produce biologics on demand, potentially enabling personalized medicine.
Earlier this year, the work was also featured in the Cornell Chronicle: