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New biotech technique accelerates protein therapy research

Monday, May 7, 2018

The DeLisa group, together with collaborators Milan Mrksich and Michael Jewett at Northwestern University, has combined technologies to develop a new biotech technique that promises to accelerate research into protein therapies that could one day become the next defense against antibiotic-resistant supergerms or the next new drug.

Together they developed a new platform for characterizing and optimizing protein glycosylation reactions using cell-free protein synthesis and mass spectrometry. Glycosylation, which is the attachment of sugars to proteins, plays a critical role in how proteins form and work in cells and how cells interact with other cells. It is also important in the study of disease and biotechnologies. The resulting advance is described in "Design of glycosylation sites by rapid synthesis and analysis of glycosyltransferases," published on May 7 by the journal Nature Chemical Biology. The new technique promises to vastly speed up the time needed to test compounds for potential new drugs. The collaborative work was supported by grants from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the National Science Foundation.

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