Scientists often build new protein molecules by stringing groups of amino acids together. These amino acid chains, called polypeptides, are the building blocks needed in drug development and the creation of new biomaterials.
The process for building polypeptides is difficult, however. Researchers report that they have developed a faster, easier and cheaper method for making new polypeptides than was previously available. The new approach uses a streamlined process that purifies the amino acid precursors and builds the polypeptides at the same time, unlike previous methods in which the processes were separate, laborious and time-consuming.
Traditionally, making polypeptide chains has been a very complicated process, said University of Illinois materials science and engineering professor Jianjun Cheng, who led the new research. Synthesizing and purifying the amino acid precursors, namely N-carboxyanhydride, or NCA, requires days