Portable way to make proteins

Journal name:
Date published:
Published online

Freeze-dried pellets of cellular proteins can be mixed with DNA sequences to produce vaccines, antibodies and other therapeutics without the need for specialized equipment.

Engineered living cells are commonly used to mass-produce drugs, but the techniques involved are hard to perform in remote areas. To create a portable, cell-free platform, James Collins at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge and his colleagues freeze-dried the cellular machinery needed to make RNA and proteins from DNA to form 'reaction pellets'. The team combined these with genetic sequences that encode proteins or peptides required for various vaccines and antimicrobials, added water and stirred them, then incubated them at certain temperatures. This method yielded, among other things, a diphtheria vaccine that effectively immunized mice.

The pellets could be mixed with sequences for other proteins to make a range of therapeutics without refrigeration, the authors say.

Cell (2016)

Additional data