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News Researchers discover protein stabilisers that could spur low-cost vaccines

Article in 'News' Written by Arul Prakash Published Nov 18, 2013

  1. UConn researchers have successfully used a easy to manufacture low-cost polymer "acrylic acid" to stabilise hemoglobin, a protein in blood.

    In a paper published last year in the Journal of Materials Chemistry, Challa Kumar, professor of chemistry and his team showed that wrapping the hemoglobin with the polymer protected it from heat during sterilization process and preserving its biological and structural integrity.

    Challa Kumar, professor of chemistry, center, with graduate students Caterina Riccardi, left, and Inoka Deshapriya in the lab. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

    The discovery could spur the development of low-cost vaccines and blood substitutes.It will also inexpensive to store and transport as it is stable at room temperatures without the need for refrigeration. This would mean vaccines could reach far flung areas in Africa and South America that were quite difficult to reach.It could also have applications in biomaterials, biosensors, and biofuels.

    “Protein stability is a major issue in biotechnology,” says Kumar. “What we’ve done is taken this protein molecule and wrapped it up in a polymer chain in order to stabilize it. In thermodynamics terms, we have restricted the entropy of the denatured state of the protein and stabilized it beyond our expectations. The system also exhibits a high degree of reversibility. The protein can be denatured and renatured many, many times. This is the very first example of its kind in the literature of all protein science. No one has ever been able to achieve this kind of stability for proteins.”

    Baby diapers among other things are made of polymer (acrylic acid), which is one of the most manufactured polymer on the planet. The polymer is hydropilic, with affinity to hemoglobin, forming a bond strong enough to withstand an extreme 120˚C heat.

    The availability, flexibility and ease of approach makes this an ideal candidate for mass production, something that bill gates foundation, WHO and developing countries are looking for to make the benefits of vaccination reach a wider audience.

    Further reading : Ultra-stable hemoglobin–poly(acrylic acid) conjugates
    Vamsi K.Mudhivarthi, Kyle S.Cole, Marc J.Novak, Westley Kipphut, Inoka K.Deshapriya, Yuxiang Zhou, Rajeswari M.Kasiac and Challa V.Kumar
    • Arul Prakash

      Article by Arul Prakash

      Editor and founder of BiotechCareer.Org. He is an Industrial Biotechnologists and also a web developer, gooner, blogger, and foodie.

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