Australian diabetes treatment innovation developed at CSIRO

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Scientists from CSIRO’s Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform have used advanced biological and chemical engineering to create a simpler, cleaner and more cost-effective process for manufacturing diabetes treatment D-fagomine.

Project lead Dr Colin Scott and his team expect that once trialled commercially it could reduce the cost of producing the treatment.

Type 2 diabetes occurs as a consequence of the hormone insulin not being produced in sufficient quantities to convert glucose from food into energy. When this process is disrupted, blood glucose can rise to levels where poor health outcomes can follow.

D-fagomine is a chemical compound that can do this job in insulin’s place by lowering blood glucose levels.

Dr Scott’s team used a series of enzymes to convert the cheap and abundant chemical glycerol into D-fagomine. The successful process was achieved by assembling a series of enzymes, each one doing just one chemical conversion, and passing the product onto the next enzyme in series.

The enzymes were arranged in compartments, with each compartment containing enzymes for one chemical step. The compartments were then assembled in the correct sequence to convert glycerol into D-fagomine

Understanding the design principles for these ‘nanomachines’ can help build new advanced molecular assembly lines – potentially opening the door for improvements in other technologies reliant on chemical reactions, such as the production of other drug treatments, biodegradable plastics and biofuels and fuel additives.

A video explaining the nanotechnology process can be found on the CSIRO website.

Keywords: diabetesInsulin

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