Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Growing corn to treat rare disease

24.09.2012
The seeds of greenhouse-grown corn could hold the key to treating a rare, life-threatening childhood genetic disease, according to researchers from Simon Fraser University.

SFU biologist Allison Kermode and her team have been carrying out multidisciplinary research toward developing enzyme therapeutics for lysosomal storage diseases - rare, but devastating childhood genetic diseases – for more than a decade.

In the most severe forms of these inherited diseases, untreated patients die in early childhood because of progressive damage to all organs of the body.

Currently, enzyme treatments are available for only six of the more than 70 diverse types of lysosomal storage diseases.

“In part because mammalian cell cultures have been the system of choice to produce these therapeutics, the enzymes are extremely costly to make, with treatments typically ranging from $300,000 to $500,000 per year for children, with even higher costs for adults,” says Kermode, noting the strain on healthcare budgets in Canada and other countries is becoming an issue.

Greenhouse-grown maize may become a platform for making alpha-L-iduronidase, an enzyme used to treat the lysosomal storage disease known as mucopolysaccharidosis I, according to research published in this week’s Nature Communications.

The findings could ultimately change how these enzyme therapeutics are made, and substantially reduce the costs of treating patients. The novel technology manipulates processes inside the maize seed that “traffick” messenger RNAs to certain parts of the cell as a means of controlling the subsequent sugar processing of the therapeutic protein.

In this way, the researchers have been able to produce the enzyme drug in maize seeds. The product could ultimately be used as a disease therapeutic, although it is still “early days,” says Kermode, and several research goals remain to be accomplished before this can become a reality.

Kermode says the success of the work underscores the power of multidisciplinary research that included contributions from SFU chemistry professor David Vocadlo, and from UBC Medical Genetics professor Lorne Clarke. It further underscores the importance of connections between SFU and Australia’s Griffith University, through collaborative researchers Mark von Itzstein and Thomas Haselhorst.

“In 2005, we had the basis of our story worked out,” says Kermode. “Taking it to the next level involved their precise analyses to determine the sugar residues on the therapeutic enzyme produced by the modified maize seeds.

“When we first looked at the sugar analysis data we were amazed at how well the ‘mRNA-trafficking strategy’ had worked, and the high fidelity of the process for controlling the sugar-processing of the therapeutic protein. This is critical as sugar processing influences the characteristics of a protein (enzyme) therapeutic, including its safety, quality, half-life in the bloodstream, and efficacy. The work could well extend to forming a platform for the production of other protein therapeutics.”

Kermode also credits SFU research associate Xu He, the first author of the Nature Communications paper. Her funding sources included NSERC Strategic grants and a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Senior Scholar Award, and in related research, a Canadian Society for Mucopolysaccharide and Related Diseases grant.

Simon Fraser University is Canada's top-ranked comprehensive university and one of the top 50 universities in the world under 50 years old. With campuses in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, B.C., SFU engages actively with the community in its research and teaching, delivers almost 150 programs to more than 30,000 students, and has more than 120,000 alumni in 130 countries.

Contact:
Allison Kermode, 778.782.3982; kermode@sfu.ca
Marianne_Meadahl, PAMR, 778.782.9017; Marianne_Meadahl@sfu.ca

Allison Kermode | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.sfu.ca

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Topologische Quantenchemie
21.07.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemische Physik fester Stoffe

nachricht Topological Quantum Chemistry
21.07.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemische Physik fester Stoffe

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Ultrathin device harvests electricity from human motion

24.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Scientists announce the quest for high-index materials

24.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

ADIR Project: Lasers Recover Valuable Materials

24.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>