“Blood is quite a peculiar kind of juice“—that is what Mephisto knew, according to Goethe’s “Faust“. But if blood really is very special, then erythropoietin (EPO) must be a very special molecule, as it triggers the production of our red blood cells.
After ten years of intense research, American scientists have now succeeded in making a fully synthetic version of this special molecule. This achievement represents a landmark advance in the chemical synthesis of complex biological molecules from basic building blocks.EPO is a hormone produced in the kidneys that induces the differentiation of bone marrow stem cells to erythrocytes (red blood cells). Upon sensing decreased oxygen in circulation, EPO is secreted to boost the production of red blood cells. EPO has found many therapeutic applications. Dialysis patients, whose haematosis is affected by renal failure, are treated with EPO and the drug is also given to cancer patients who have undergone chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Black sheep among racing cyclists, and other athletes, have abused EPO in an effort to improve their athletic performance.
EPO is not actually one compound but a large family of molecules. Known as glycoproteins, the structures are composed of a protein decorated with four carbohydrate sectors. The protein portion is always the same, as are the locations at which the carbohydrate domains are attached. Yet, in endogenous EPO protein, there are a wide variety of different carbohydrate sectors that may be appended to the protein. It has not been possible to access naturally occurring EPO as a homogeneous, pure molecule. By adopting the tools of chemical synthesis, the investigators were able to make, for the first time, pure “wild type” EPO glycoprotein incorporating the natural amino acid sequence and four carbohydrate sectors of strictly defined structure.
Extension of this strategy will enable scientists to make numerous versions of the molecule and to study how differences in the chemical structure of the carbohydrate domains may affect how the glycoprotein induces the production of red blood cells.
The structure of the synthetic EPO was verified by mass spectrometry. Tests using stem cells proved the effectiveness of the synthesized EPO: like its natural counterpart, the synthetic EPO triggered the formation of red blood cells from stem cells.
Samuel J. Danishefsky | Angewandte Chemie
Learning from Nature: Genomic database standard alleviates search for novel antibiotics
02.09.2015 | Max-Planck-Institut für marine Mikrobiologie
Orang-utan females prefer cheek-padded males
02.09.2015 | Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig
China's Loess Plateau was formed by wind alternately depositing dust or removing dust over the last 2.6 million years, according to a new report from University of Arizona geoscientists. The study is the first to explain how the steep-fronted plateau formed.
China's Loess Plateau was formed by wind alternately depositing dust or removing dust over the last 2.6 million years, according to a new report from...
The leaves of the lotus flower, and other natural surfaces that repel water and dirt, have been the model for many types of engineered liquid-repelling surfaces. As slippery as these surfaces are, however, tiny water droplets still stick to them. Now, Penn State researchers have developed nano/micro-textured, highly slippery surfaces able to outperform these naturally inspired coatings, particularly when the water is a vapor or tiny droplets.
Enhancing the mobility of liquid droplets on rough surfaces could improve condensation heat transfer for power-plant heat exchangers, create more efficient...
Longer, more severe, and hotter droughts and a myriad of other threats, including diseases and more extensive and severe wildfires, are threatening to transform some of the world's temperate forests, a new study published in Science has found. Without informed management, some forests could convert to shrublands or grasslands within the coming decades.
"While we have been trying to manage for resilience of 20th century conditions, we realize now that we must prepare for transformations and attempt to ease...
A University of Oklahoma astrophysicist and his Chinese collaborator have found two supermassive black holes in Markarian 231, the nearest quasar to Earth, using observations from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.
The discovery of two supermassive black holes--one larger one and a second, smaller one--are evidence of a binary black hole and suggests that supermassive...
A team of European researchers have developed a model to simulate the impact of tsunamis generated by earthquakes and applied it to the Eastern Mediterranean. The results show how tsunami waves could hit and inundate coastal areas in southern Italy and Greece. The study is published today (27 August) in Ocean Science, an open access journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).
Though not as frequent as in the Pacific and Indian oceans, tsunamis also occur in the Mediterranean, mainly due to earthquakes generated when the African...
20.08.2015 | Event News
20.08.2015 | Event News
19.08.2015 | Event News
02.09.2015 | Physics and Astronomy
02.09.2015 | Life Sciences
02.09.2015 | Awards Funding