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Dartmouth engineers closer to mass-producing therapeutic proteins

Hanover, N.H. -- Dartmouth engineers are one step closer to mass-producing therapeutic proteins desperately needed by today's pharmaceutical industry.

Reported in today's early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy Of Sciences, the researchers have achieved a major milestone in their efforts to effectively produce human therapeutics using a yeast-based protein expression system.

The research is the result of a collaborative effort between Dartmouth researchers and a bioengineering startup called GlycoFi, Inc. Founded by two Dartmouth engineering professors, GlycoFi is advancing technological solutions for the safe, fast, and cost-effective mass-production of fully-humanized proteins. Protein-based biological drugs must be manufactured by living cells, which are genetically engineered to produce (or express) proteins that mimic the structures synthesized by humans. Current production of these therapeutic proteins is being pushed beyond capacity by exponential growth in the biopharmaceutical industry. GlycoFi's business is to engineer fungal expression systems that produce therapeutic proteins with human-like structures at an industrial scale.

"Production capacity has led to a bottleneck within the biopharmaceutical pipeline," said Charles Hutchinson, co-founder and CEO of GlycoFi, as well as dean emeritus of Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering. "The result is that some approved therapeutic protein drugs cannot be produced in adequate amounts, and still others are not making it into commercialization due to the cost and inefficiencies of producing them. It is our hope that this push to producing homogeneous, human-like glycoproteins in yeast will eliminate the production capacity bottleneck, and allow for the production of better and safer drugs."

Fungal-based protein expression systems are safer than conventional mammalian cell culture systems, but have not been effective in replicating complex human glycoprot
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Contact: Catharine Lamm or Sue Knapp
catharine.lamm@dartmouth.edu
603-646-3943
Dartmouth College
17-Apr-2003


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