In simple language, recombinant proteins are essential but complex biomolecules that play a major part in helping to promote living systems. They are made of essential acids that bind together into chains and have a variety of uses in tissues and cells. They help to maintain the cell growth and development process as well as determine each of our physical attributes. We all know we carry genetic markers from our parents, like height and eye color. Recombinant proteins play a big role in that. Scientists also manufacture recombinant proteins for research applications in ways we could’ve never imagined before.
Thanks to advances in technology, we now know a lot more about protein molecules and how they work. This is crucial for scientists as we continue to tinker with genetics in what is called the biotechnological field. The modified protein gets its information from what’s called recombinant DNA. Recombinant DNA is two segments of DNA that have been bound into a bacterial plasmid. Once that happens, they can then emerge as proteins that have new data and characteristics. Because all living things have similar chemical structures, scientists can use this process by borrowing the DNA for the living organism to produce a new set of data within the host.
How Have Recombinant Proteins Been Used In the Past?
The concept of recombinant proteins was first developed in 1973 by Peter Lobban and Dale Kaiser. Lobban was a graduate student who worked alongside Kaiser, his professor at Stanford University. Their hypothesis was published in a journal called Enzymatic and laid out the groundwork for how to regenerate new genes within a host cell. By 1980, Sanford University had a patient on the study, which led to several developments over the past several decades as medical technology continued to advance.
One example of this study being used included Herbert Boyer developing human insulin. It was biosynthetically created to help assist diabetics who needed insulin to treat their condition. This was a major breakthrough. Over time, there have been many other uses for recombinant proteins, such as the creation of other pharmaceutical needs, antibodies to treat diseases, and even the engineering of tissue.
Human Growth Hormones
One of the top ways recombinant proteins have been used is the development of synthetic human growth hormones. Normal human growth hormone regulates many bodily functions, including how we metabolize fat and sugar, grow our muscles, heart function, and even our bodily composition. Children need human growth hormone to help them advance through their development. Human growth hormone has been used to help treat various health issues, including chronic kidney disease, Turner’s syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, short bowel syndrome, muscle-wasting disease, and many others.
For a long time, scientists had to get human growth hormones from cadavers, but since 1985, the FDA has approved the use of synthetic HGH, which is often used in many pharmaceuticals and is widely available today. Many people inject themselves with it with the belief that it will help keep their bodies from the aging process. That’s because the amount of natural human growth hormone decreases as we get older, but there’s no real data to back up using it for anti-aging purposes actually works.
Other Ways Recombinant Proteins Are Used
The advancement of biotechnology has allowed for multiple other ways scientists and researchers have used recombinant proteins. Let’s take a look at several of them.
Improved Central Carbon Mechanism
The increase of lactate in the body can have painful side effects. Officially known as lactic acid, this chemical is a form of metabolic acidosis. It’s a normal process for the most part. We mostly recognize the byproduct of lactic acid after we do an intense workout. When your muscles are tired and sore after a particularly rough day at the gym, that’s lactic acid that’s been produced. Normally, the liver can break this chemical down.
By using recombinant proteins, genes can be manipulated to make the process much more efficient, decreasing the amount of lactate in the body and improving overall cell performance. This is done by improving the central carbon mechanism, which has many potential applications, including allowing us to spend more time working out without getting too sore and shortening recovery time.
Mapping and Sequencing Genes
You’ve most likely heard of gene sequencing, especially if you’ve watched Jurassic Park. Gene sequencing was used to bring back the dinosaurs. Even if the movie is fiction, it has real applications today. The discovery of recombinant proteins has allowed researchers to better understand the processes of molecular biology, enhancing our knowledge about how the cells work and the genes that encode them. By understanding the cell a bit better, more discoveries are surely to be made in the future.
The Creation of New Drugs
Recombinant proteins have played a major role in the development of biologically derived drugs, making up about 30% of the current supply. The process is used to help treat diseases and will no doubt be used in even greater ways in the future.
Our lives are forever changed due to the discovery of recombinant proteins. It’s a field of science that will continue to grow and allow us to learn even more about our chemical make-up and how we can further combat crippling diseases and illnesses. Not all the questions have been answered, though, so much more research needs to be done. Future studies may lead to many scientific breakthroughs, even potentially curing cancer one day through targeted therapies.
Shenandoah Biotechnology is proud to have been developing recombinant proteins since 2006. We aim to provide a superior and affordable source of recombinant cytokines to the academic and industrial scientific research communities.
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