Vaccines, antibodies, and other therapeutic proteins are the key products of the biotechnology field. The US biotechnology industry has revenues in excess of $70 billion and that number is expected to grow to $130 billion by 2010. A significant number these biologics are produced in mammalian cells, which make human-like modifications of their proteins that are essential for effectiveness of the protein drug in the body.
Yet, compared to E. coli or yeast production systems, mammalian cells are slow growing, fragile, require costly media and bioreactors, and produce lower yields. With the biology revolution, though, researchers have a more in depth understanding of cell physiology and a wide variety of tools at their disposal to manipulate cells for their goals. Specifically, recombinant DNA technology has opened the possibility of isolating and re-introducing any gene into cells to alter the phenotype. This is the essence of cell engineering.
Our lab specializes in engineering cells to increase the yield, quality, or time for production of biologics in mammalian cells. Cells cultured in bioreactors for production of therapeutics often die as a result of numerous stresses. By expressing anti-death genes in these cells, we can maintain the viability of cells for longer, allowing to produce more. Similarly, engineering cells to grow faster or higher cell densities decreases the time it takes for production of recombinant protein, decreasing operating costs. With such industry-relevant research, our lab has numerous collaborations with companies in the biotechnology industry, including Biogen-IDEC, Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, BioMarin, Millipore, and Invitrogen.
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