Big Pharma signs up for speedy E.coli protein production tech

By Natalie Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Protein

E.coli to produce proteins more quickly
A new non-glycosolated protein production method using E.coli can cut manufacturing costs by up to 50 per cent as well as speeding up the process, according to researchers at the University of Arkansas.

The team, led by PhD student Ellen Brune, say current methods are over-complicated because they produces a large amount of waste product alongside the desired protein, which then needs to be purified, likening traditional approaches to making orange juice using an entire tree.

“The traditional purification process accounts for 70 per cent of total manufacturing costs and leaves manufacturers with as little as 30 per cent of the target biologic,”​ Brune told

To address this, they have developed a new production method that uses custom strains of the bacteria Escherichia coli​ (E.coli), known as the Lotus cell line, that they claim reduces the amount of waste or “nuisance” ​proteins.

Bruce added that the team – who now operate under as Boston Mountain Biotech – has already signed an agreement with an undisclosed Big Pharma.

“We're hoping to have a prototype in the hands of some major pharmaceutical companies by May 2013,”​ she said. “I can't stay who we've signed an NDA (non-disclosed agreement) with but I can say that they are a major player and an international household name.”

Brune also told us limited $10,000 development partnerships are still available through Boston Mountain Biotech.

Super bacteria

The new technology is not the first to use E.coli to cut costs and speed up protein production​.

But Brune says it is the first to use the bacteria to make non-glycosolated proteins - which are used in therapies for diabetes, cancer, arthritis and macular degeneration. She also claimed that the technology is the first of its kind to be commercialised.

“My research is very similar in terms of industrial application, but it solves a very different problem.  While the other technology focuses on glycosolated proteins, my technology is for non-glycosolated proteins,”​ which are largely used for receptor research.

Related topics Bio Developments

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