Published October 15, 2015
I enjoyed reading Charlotte Hsu's article "Engineers turn E. coli into tiny factories for producing new forms of popular antibiotic," which describes the accomplishment of UB scientists in combatting antibiotic resistance by genetically modifying and metabolically engineering E. coli bacteria to produce variations of the antibiotic erythromycin. Their feat marks another triumph for the relatively new science of synthetic biology — the application of engineering techniques to biology in order to produce new life forms useful for solving global health and environmental problems, and for advancing the scientific understanding of life itself.
As noted in the article, Dr. Pfeifer and colleagues have been pursuing this goal for more than a decade. Their persistent hard work is revealed in the following milestones found in a PubMed search of journal articles:
Hsu's article led me to read the research article she reported on: "Tailoring pathway modularity in the biosynthesis of erythromycin analogs heterologously" by UB scientists Guojian Zhang, Yi Li, Lei Fang and Blaine A. Pfeifer. They note that their success helps to clarify the scientific understanding of the mechanisms involved in producing complex metabolic products such as erythromycin within the cell. They conclude that their research will provide "additional metabolic engineering and synthetic biology tools? to other scientists in their efforts to provide useful products and to understand cellular mechanisms.
Thank you UB Reporter and Charlotte Hsu for informing us of the masterful achievement attained by scientists in UB's Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering!
William Dale, UB EdM, Science and the Public Program,
Graduate School of Education