Much of common pharmaceutical development today is the product of laborious cycles of tweaking and optimization. In each drug, a carefully concocted formula of natural and synthetic enzymes and ingredients works together to catalyze a desired reaction. But in early development, much of the process is spent determining what quantities of each enzyme to use to ensure a reaction occurs at a specific speed.
New collaborative research from Northwestern University could expedite, or even eliminate, the need for scientists to manually adjust bioproduction reaction conditions at all. Using ideas conceived by graduate students across three labs, Northwestern researchers developed technology that allows microbes to produce drugs with feedback control systems, dialing down or amping up protein concentration as needed.