A team of chemical engineers at The University of Texas at Austin has developed a new, cost-effective method for synthetically producing a biorenewable platform chemical called triacetic acid lactone (TAL) that can be used to produce innovative new drugs and sustainable plastics at an industrial scale, as described this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Led by Hal Alper, professor in the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering in the Cockrell School of Engineering, the team's new method involves engineering the yeast Y. lipolytica to increase production of TAL, a polyketide, to levels that far exceed current bioproduction methods.
This was accomplished by rewiring metabolism in the yeast through synthetic biology and genetic engineering. Ultimately, the research team increased production capacity tenfold, enabling polyketides to be mass-produced for incorporation into a variety of new applications in industry.
Polyketides are an important class of naturally derived molecules that can be used to make many useful products such as nutritional supplements, specialty polymers, pigments and pharmaceuticals. Currently, there are more than 20 drugs derived from polyketides on the market, including immunosuppressants, statins and antimicrobials.
Up to this point, synthetic production of polyketides has been constrained by technical challenges, limiting practical applications for consumer- and industry-based needs. In particular, most technologies have limited product yields resulting in difficult chemical synthesis and poor economics. The UT Austin team's breakthrough could change that.
Using their new method, the researchers were able to purify TAL directly from a bioreactor to make a new plastic material that can be formed into a film and is seen to exhibit an orange hue and relative transparency.
"We hope to open up new product and industrial opportunities in the chemical and pharmaceutical spaces," Alper said. "Our engineering efforts in TAL showcase that we can rewire metabolism to create renewable solutions to traditional chemical manufacturing."
The UT Austin Office of Technology Commercialization has filed U.S. patent applications for the technology and is working to secure worldwide patents. The office is seeking commercial partners who have interest in improving the economics of polyketide production or creating new materials or products from polyketides.
"An important role for our institution, as one of the nation's leading public research universities, is to move UT Austin's research from the laboratory to useful products and services for the marketplace," said Dan Sharp, director of the UT Austin Office of Technology Commercialization. "Research like this addresses that priority and provides society with innovative solutions that grow our economy and improve the quality of life."
This work was funded by the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation and the Welch Foundation.
Betsy Merrick | EurekAlert!
Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite
20.04.2018 | University of Connecticut
Diamond-like carbon is formed differently to what was believed -- machine learning enables development of new model
19.04.2018 | Aalto University
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.
Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...
In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research
20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy