Navigation Links
Engineering a protein to prevent brain damage from toxic agents
Date:7/30/2014

Research at New York University is paving the way for a breakthrough that may prevent brain damage in civilians and military troops exposed to poisonous chemicalsparticularly those in pesticides and chemical weapons.

An article in the current issue of the journal ChemBioChem outlines the advancement in detoxifying organophosphates, which are compounds commonly used in pesticides and warfare agents. The patent-pending process was developed by NYU School of Engineering Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering Jin Kim Montclare, along with Richard Bonneau, an associate professor in NYU's Department of Biology and a member of the computer science faculty at NYU's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences.

Their work centers on proteins called phosphotriesterases, which have the unique capability of degrading chemicals in a class known as organophosphates, which are found in everything from industrial pesticides to the sarin gas used in chemical warfare.

Organophosphates permanently bond to neurotransmitters in the brain, interfering with their ability to function and causing irreversible damage. The ability of phosphotriesterases to detoxify organophosphates has been previously documented; however, applications using the protein for this purpose have been limited by its short half-life and instability at high temperatures.

Montclare and her colleagues devised a method of re-engineering phosphotriesterases by incorporating an artificial fluorinated amino acid and computational biology. The result: a thermo-stable protein with a longer half-life that retains all the detoxification capabilities of the original version.

"Organophosphates pose tremendous danger to people and wildlife, and sadly it's not unusual for humans to come into contact with these compounds, whether through exposure to pesticide or an intentional chemical warfare attack," explained Montclare. "We've known that phosphotriesterases had the power to detoxify these nerve agents, but they were far too fragile to be used therapeutically," she said.

In a process that married computational biology and experimentation, the collaborators used Rosetta computational modeling software to identify sequences in the fluorinated phosphotriesterase protein that could be modified to increase its stability and make therapeutic applications a reality.

The possibilities for this reengineered protein are considerable. Montclare explained that in addition to therapeutic formulations, which could prevent nerve damage in the event of a gas attack or pesticide exposure and would likely be developed first for military use, the proteins could be critical when stores of toxic nerve agents need to be decommissioned.

"Oftentimes, chemical agent stockpiles are decommissioned through processes that involve treatment with heat and caustic chemical reagents for neutralization, followed by hazardous materials disposal," she said. "These proteins could accomplish that same task enzymatically, without the need for reactors and formation of dangerous byproducts."

Plans are under way to begin developing therapeutic applications for this modified phosphotriesterase, and the research team believes that its methodologyusing computational biology to identify potentially beneficial modifications to proteinscould point the way to future breakthroughs in engineered proteins.


'/>"/>

Contact: Kathleen Hamilton
kathleen.hamilton@nyu.edu
718-260-3792
New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering: Brand-new journal launches in 2015, names editor
2. University of Houston researcher publishes textbook on tissue engineering
3. New professorship in tissue engineering links molecular engineering, marine biology
4. NJIT engineering professor spurs interest in sanitary landfills throughout Asia
5. Exquisitely engineered human vision featured in Optical Engineering
6. Climate engineering cant erase climate change
7. Engineering a better way to rebuild bone inside the body
8. UH awarded $2 million for new engineering professor
9. Elsevier selected publish official journal: Engineering in Agriculture, Environment & Food
10. Having problems with your engineering project? This book will be your lifesaver
11. UH petroleum engineering director wins SPE Award
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/14/2016)... 2016 BioCatch ™, the ... announced the appointment of Eyal Goldwerger as ... Goldwerger,s leadership appointment comes at a time of ... deployment of its platform at several of the world,s ... discerns unique cognitive and physiological factors, is a winner ...
(Date:3/31/2016)... R.I. , March 31, 2016  Genomics firm ... of founding CEO, Barrett Bready , M.D., who ... members of the original technical leadership team, including Chief ... President of Product Development, Steve Nurnberg and Vice President ... returned to the company. Dr. Bready served ...
(Date:3/22/2016)... March 22, 2016 ... Sensors Market for Consumer Industry by Type (Image, ... Application (Communication & IT, Entertainment, Home Appliances, ... Forecast to 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, the ... to reach USD 26.76 Billion by 2022, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/29/2016)... 29, 2016 According to ... Research "Separation Systems for Commercial Biotechnology Market - ... Forecast 2015 - 2023", the separation systems for ... Mn in 2014 and is projected to expand ... 2023 to reach US$ 19,227.8 Mn in 2023. ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... ... 29, 2016 , ... Intelligent Implant Systems announced today that the two-level components ... in the United States. These components expand the capabilities of the system and ... beginning in October of 2015, the company has seen significant sales growth in 1Q ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... NEW YORK , April 28, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... biotechnology acceleration company reports the Company,s CEO  was ... capital titled Accelerators Enter When VCs Fear To ... Life Science Leader magazine is an ... work for everything from emerging biotechs to Big ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... ... April 28, 2016 , ... ... investments in recruiting top industry experts, and expanding its LATAM network and logistics ... tools for clients to manage their clinical trial projects. , The expansion will ...
Breaking Biology Technology: