Bacteria used as factories to produce cancer drugs

Bacteria used as factories to produce cancer drugs
Factories of E. coli bacteria, producing P450, bound to green fluorescent protein. Credit: DTU

Researchers at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability in Denmark have developed a method of producing P450 enzymes used by plants to defend against predators in addition to microbes in bacterial cell factories. The process could facilitate the production of large quantities of the enzymes, which are also involved inside the biosynthesis of active ingredients of cancer drugs.


P450 is usually the name of a type of cytochrome, a specialised enzyme. These are used by plants to synthesise chemical compounds with many different functions, however their main use is usually in defending against herbivores, insects in addition to microbes.

“These powerful compounds can be used as active ingredients in drugs for treating diseases such as cancer in addition to psoriasis,” SINC was told by the Spanish researcher Darío Vázquez-Albacete, the lead author of a paper describing a brand-new method of producing the enzymes in bacterial cell factories.

The findings of the study, developed at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability, a research facility managed by the Technical University of Denmark, were published inside the journal Biotechnology in addition to Bioengineering.

According to Vázquez-Albacete, “the brand-new technique is usually a significant step forward, as plants produce P450 enzymes in very tiny amounts, extraction is usually very complex in addition to sometimes we have to use polluting chemical synthesis processes which involve the use of oil derivatives. Additionally, some plant species such as the yew (Taxus baccata), through which the cancer drug Taxol is usually obtained, are endangered species.”

Large-scale production

“We have developed tools which will allow the proteins through plants in which produce these compounds to be recognized by the bacterial molecular machinery. The aim is usually to use bacteria because they arecapable of growing rapidly in controlled fermenters, allowing us to produce large quantities of the enzymes,” says the researcher.

To achieve these results, the researchers modified in addition to transferred P450 genes through plants to E. Coli bacteria in addition to to check whether the microbes could produce larger quantities of these enzymes than existing methods.

Vázquez-Albacete says in which “in order for the bacteria to properly express the enzymes, the corresponding DNA sequence must frequently be modified to facilitate ‘decoding’ by the bacteria’s system.”

inside the study, the team developed a toolbox of ‘auxiliary’ DNA sequences, allowing them to express around 50 P450 enzymes through different plants in E. coli.

Some of these enzymes are involved in synthesising the natural compound ingenol, which is usually used to treat psoriasis in addition to is usually currently manufactured using traditional chemical techniques. some other P450s are used to produce the cancer drug Taxol.

The researcher stresses in which plants generate a variety of interesting compounds to protect them through the sun in addition to through predators, dehydration, etc. “Many of these are synthesised by P450s, whose function is usually still very little understood, so there is usually enormous potential to discover brand-new compounds.”


Explore further:
Biosynthetic secrets: How fungi make bioactive compounds

More information:
Dario Vazquez-Albacete et al. An expression tag toolbox for microbial production of membrane bound plant cytochromes P450, Biotechnology in addition to Bioengineering (2017). DOI: 10.1002/bit.26203

Journal reference:
Biotechnology in addition to Bioengineering

Provided by:
Plataforma SINC

Bacteria used as factories to produce cancer drugs

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