The LMB’s Jason Chin, has created a way to incorporate unnatural amino acids into proteins, allowing molecular biologists to control and elucidate the functions of proteins in cells with unprecedented precision. Commercialisation of this work is now in the initial phases.
Evolving the ribosome
Ribosomes, found in the cytoplasm of living cells, are made of protein and RNA subunits and catalyze the synthesis of proteins guided by a messenger RNA template.
Jason Chin’s group has been working on expanding the chemical scope of the ribosome so it can act as a novel cellular translation system able to synthesise unnatural proteins.
To date the group has been able to make living cells that produce proteins containing two distinct, novel amino acids – a crucial step toward producing entirely unnatural proteins.
This ground-breaking work has the potential to revolutionise the way patients are treated using protein-like therapeutics, such as insulin treatment, as well as to detect prostate, ovarian, and colon cancer.
MRC Technology is considering a number of options to commercialise Jason Chin’s discovery from the spinout route to the provision of multiple non-exclusive licences. Negotiations are taking place with both venture capitalists and commercial organisations to explore these options.