It's always pretty amazing to read about the things researchers at Michigan Technological University
are working on, but this latest research truly has great potential.
Chemist Shiyue Fang is working on a quicker, simpler method for purifying peptides for use in drugs like the anti-HIV medication enfuvirtide.
Typically, peptide drugs, made of amino acids, are difficult and expensive to make--the aforementioned enfuvirtide can cost $25,000 for a year. They have to go through a process of separating fully-formed peptide chains from those that didn't quite complete during production. What Fang's method does is attach a polymerizable group of atoms to either the complete or incomplete peptides, making them precipitate out of the usual solution and neatly separating the two.
It has several benefits over existing methods: the process works in about two hours, is cheaper and requires less labor; it can handle large batches at one time, and creates less waste. And best of all, the process also works on DNA sequences (which also are chains of amino acids) to sort full chains out from broken ones.
"I'm excited about the progress we've made," Fang says. He's patented the process and is seeking commercial uses for it. "Peptide drugs are used to fight cancer, inflammation, diseases of the central nervous system, viral diseases like HIV… This gives us a chance to make a difference in people's lives."
Writer: Sam Eggleston
Source: Michigan Technological University