The advance, described today at the 234th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, may lead to a safe, inexpensive source of this protein for manufacturers who now rely on material obtained as a by-product of meat production.
Today, production of gelatin, a jelly-like substance, relies on the same fundamental methodology employed since commercial production began in the 17th century: Gelatin is derived from the break-down of collagen, which is a component of skin, tendon, bone, cartilage and connective tissue of animals. While there are no naturally occurring plant sources of gelatin, scientists have successfully modified plants, such as corn, to have a gene that results in the production of “recombinant” gelatin.
About 55,000 tons of animal-sourced gelatin are used every year to produce capsules and tablets for medicinal purposes. Plant-derived recombinant gelatin would address concerns about the possible presence of infectious agents in animal by-products and the lack of traceability of the source of the raw materials currently used to make gelatin. However, finding ways to recover and purify recombinant gelatin from plants has remained a challenge because only very low levels accumulate at the early stages of the development process.
Now, scientists at Iowa State University in Ames and FibroGen, Inc., in South San Francisco say they have developed a purification process to recover these small quantities of recombinant gelatin present in the early generations of transgenic corn. The method uses a four-step recovery system to separate the recombinant protein from other corn proteins with sufficient purity that its structure and composition can be verified, says Charles Glatz, Ph.D., a chemical engineer at Iowa State University who directed the work.
“Protein production from transgenic plants is a challenging process, with potential pitfalls all along the way,” Glatz says. “It is important to develop methods in the early stages of the development program to purify gelatin to demonstrate that it can be produced properly.”
The studies establish transgenic corn as a viable way to produce gelatin and potentially other products, Glatz says. In time, researchers may also be able to develop a variety of “designer” gelatins, with specific molecular weights and properties tailored to suit various needs of products containing gelatin.
“Corn is an ideal production unit, because it can handle high volumes at a low cost,” he says. In addition the recombinant gelatin is free from the safety concerns of using meat byproducts.
The purification process relies on chromatographic and filtration techniques, building upon methods developed by FibroGen to recover recombinant gelatin produced in yeast.
Glatz says ultrafiltration allowed the group to take advantage of the size difference between the recombinant protein and other corn proteins.
“This step greatly reduced the process volume for later chromatographic steps, and was crucial to achieving a high purification factor.”
The group is now working to refine the method and boost the overall recombinant protein yields in corn, he says. Though the procedure requires more testing, Glatz says the technique could someday be used to produce high-grade gelatin in a safe and inexpensive manner.
Overall costs could be further reduced by combining the production of gelatin in corn with the extraction of non-protein parts of the grain — such as oils and starches — that are now grown and harvested for biodiesel and ethanol production, he adds.
“Corn wouldn’t be planted for its gelatin alone, but those products could help off-set the cost of biorefineries that use corn to produce other products,” he says.
Cheng Zhang, a doctoral student at Iowa State University, presented details of the new purification process at the American Chemical Society meeting.
Meadows beat out shrubs when it comes to storing carbon
23.11.2017 | Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Migrating Cells: Folds in the cell membrane supply material for necessary blebs
23.11.2017 | Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...
The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
23.11.2017 | Information Technology
23.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.11.2017 | Life Sciences