“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
Quasi-sexual gene transfer drives genetic diversity of hot spring bacteria
29.05.2015 | Carnegie Institution
Scientists use unmanned aerial vehicle to study gray whales from above
29.05.2015 | NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service
Many joining and cutting processes are possible only with lasers. New technologies make it possible to manufacture metal components with hollow structures that are significantly lighter and yet just as stable as solid components. In addition, lasers can be used to combine various lightweight construction materials and steels with each other. The Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen is presenting a range of such solutions at the LASER World of Photonics trade fair from June 22 to 25, 2015 in Munich, Germany, (Hall A3, Stand 121).
Lightweight construction materials are popular: aluminum is used in the bodywork of cars, for example, and aircraft fuselages already consist in large part of...
Using ultrashort laser pulses, scientists in Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have demonstrated the emission of extreme ultraviolet radiation from thin dielectric films and have investigated the underlying mechanisms.
In 1961, only shortly after the invention of the first laser, scientists exposed silicon dioxide crystals (also known as quartz) to an intense ruby laser to...
The only professorship in Germany to date, one master's programme, one laboratory with worldwide unique equipment and the corresponding research results: The University of Würzburg is leading in the field of biofabrication.
Paul Dalton is presently the only professor of biofabrication in Germany. About a year ago, the Australian researcher relocated to the Würzburg department for...
Physicists have developed an innovative method that could enable the efficient use of nanocomponents in electronic circuits. To achieve this, they have developed a layout in which a nanocomponent is connected to two electrical conductors, which uncouple the electrical signal in a highly efficient manner. The scientists at the Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel have published their results in the scientific journal “Nature Communications” together with their colleagues from ETH Zurich.
Electronic components are becoming smaller and smaller. Components measuring just a few nanometers – the size of around ten atoms – are already being produced...
Development and implementation of an advanced automobile parking navigation platform for parking services
To fulfill the requirements of the industry, PolyU researchers developed the Advanced Automobile Parking Navigation Platform, which includes smart devices,...
20.05.2015 | Event News
18.05.2015 | Event News
12.05.2015 | Event News
29.05.2015 | Life Sciences
29.05.2015 | Earth Sciences
29.05.2015 | Physics and Astronomy