Interdisciplinary Initiatives Program Round 1 - 2000

James Swartz, Chemical Engineering
Ronald Levy, Medicine
Hendrik Veelken, Medicine
Greg Kanter, Medicine
Shoshana Levy, Medicine
Nathalie Michael-Rydellet, Chemical Engineering
Alexei Voloshin, Chemical Engineering

By combining forces, our groups in the Schools of Medicine and Engineering are developing exciting new technology for the rapid and cost-effective synthesis of patient-specific protein pharmaceuticals.

B cell lymphoma is a cancerous disease in which a B cell goes out of control and continues to reproduce itself. B cells normally produce antibodies and the lymphoma cell is no exception. The rogue cell produces one specific antibody protein that remains attached to the cell and provides a unique target for attack. Fortunately, the scientists of the Levy lab have learned how to design a vaccine that recruits the victim’s own immune system to attack that target and to destroy only the diseased cells. The challenge is that each patient needs a new and different vaccine. With conventional technology that new vaccine may take months to produce. However, the exciting technique of cell-free protein synthesis (being developed in the Swartz lab) potentially allows the production of these vaccines within a week, and at a much lower cost. We have now developed methods to efficiently produce the polypeptides required for these vaccines. However, we are still challenged to produce them in the proper and bioactive conformation. We will describe our expression technology as well as efforts and early results in accomplishing successful protein folding.