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Synthetic Protein that Encapsulates its Own Genetic Material Developed

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Published on : Dec 15, 2017

According to a new report published in the scientific journal, Nature, scientists from the University of Washington (UW) Institute for Protein Design have succeeded in synthetically producing the first ever synthetic protein that have their own genetic materials and develop new traits when subjected to complex environments. These protein assemblies have been designed and developed from scratch to carry molecular information. These entities could prove to be highly impactful in the field of targeted drug delivery and synthetic life research.

These assemblies are the synthetic forms of the natural genome containers, nucleocapsids. Most viruses frame their genetic materials with a protein shell. The synthetic protein assemblies were designed to resemble these protein shells around the generic materials of viruses. This development stems from the several molecular engineering projects the medicine department and other areas of the university associated with the field of targeted drug delivery systems. The synthetic proteins were designed with the use of computers and were formed in a lab.

The primary motive behind the development of these synthetic assemblies was to find new ways for transporting therapeutic molecules into specific cells without the use of viruses and vehicles. As targeted drug delivery continues to remain one of the leading unresolved areas in medicine, research and development aimed at the development of effective drug delivery agents is unending.

Other than the potential biomedical applications, these synthetic proteins can also prove to be of groundbreaking use in the field of synthetic life research. The protein assemblies are likely to be the world’s first completely synthetic protein assemblies to encapsulate their own genetic materials and evolve new traits. These functions are naturally only associated with living things.