Resurrecting Earth’s ancient enzymes in quest to make more effective drugs and chemicals

precambria

In the 1990 Michael Crichton novel “Jurassic Park,” scientists resurrect extinct species, with disastrous, page-turning consequences. But what if the scientists hadn’t wanted to re-create whole organisms, just a part of their long-lost molecular machinery?

Engineers are interested in using these versatile natural machines to speed up industrial chemical reactions in environmentally friendly ways. Unfortunately, enzymes tend to unravel in the harsh conditions often used in commercial processes.

In the new research, the team used the same basic technique to resurrect additional ancient enzymes from both before and after multicellular life emerged on Earth. The enzymes themselves are long gone, but the scientists studied the genes of many different species that have a modern version, and then used a computer algorithm to take a best guess at how the genes evolved and what the most likely form in a common ancestor would look like.

Related article:  Can a skin patch thwart cocaine overdoses?

Using this process, the researchers resurrected an enzyme that the first vertebrate animals likely used to help eliminate foreign chemicals from their bodies, as well as an enzyme that likely helped ancient bacteria make the building blocks for proteins. Modern relatives of both enzymes have attracted industry interest, the first for its potential to aid drug development and make specialized chemicals such as flavors and fragrances, and the second for its potential use in making biofuels.

Read full, original post: Scientists Resurrect Ancient Versions of Life’s Molecular Machinery

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
can you boost your immune system to prevent coronavirus spread x

Video: How to boost your immune system to guard against COVID and other illnesses

Scientists have recently developed ways to measure your immune age. Fortunately, it turns out your immune age can go down ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend