Researchers have developed a method to efficiently manufacture proteins that do not occur naturally. In a paper lead-authored by Zachary Gates of the MIT Department of Chemistry, researchers described the technology to chemically synthesize proteins with non-natural amino acids. The so-called “xenoproteins” are generally more stable than natural proteins and have potential to be developed into effective drugs against diseases such as Ebola.
Although there are two possible configurations of amino acids, only the L types are used by the body. The other non-natural D type is a mirror image of the L types and were used to make new proteins of approximately 30 amino acids. The attempts successfully created tens of millions of such proteins. In a screening test, the researchers determined proteins capable of binding antibodies with hazardous proteins such as those of the influenza virus, anthrax toxin, and Ebola virus.
Applications of the technology aim to use it as a platform to readily manufacture beneficial proteins while creating a library. The team also mentioned the possibility of reaching the ambitious objective of eliminating any new infectious diseases.