Consortium's technology for synthetic protein engineering offers access to one of the next hot fields in biotechnology
WASHINGTON -- Proteins! That's what his elders would tell Dustin Hoffman to pursue instead of plastics if the 1960s movie The Graduate were set in the 1990s. That's where the next revolution in man-made materials will be. And that's why the federal government, the University of Maryland, and local politicians have invested $8 million to set up a protein engineering laboratory, the Center for Advanced Research in Biotechnology (CARB), in Rockville, Md. They're betting that molecular biologists can tailor proteins to do exactly what they want them to do.

One day, scientists hope, these "synthetic" proteins will outperform their natural counterparts, just as polypropylene outdoes wool and cotton in keeping people warm today. As drugs, custom analogs should work at lower doses and cause fewer side effects. They will also be made into...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?