Cell-free Protein Engineering Research
The Bundy Biotechnology research lab studies the expression and engineering of proteins for biocatalysis, vaccination, drug-delivery, and medical diagnostic applications.
Cell-free Synthetic Biology for Protein Engineering
What is Cell-free Synthetic Biology?
Proteins—polymers of amino acids—are a major class of biomolecules whose myriad functions facilitate many crucial biological processes. Accordingly, human control over these biological processes depends upon the ability to study, produce, and modify proteins. One innovative tool for accomplishing these aims is cell-free protein synthesis (CFPS). This method, rather than using living cells to make protein, simply extracts the cells’ natural protein-making machinery and then uses it to produce protein in vitro.
Engineering Within a Cell-free System
Because living cells are no longer involved, scientists can freely adapt and engineer the protein production environment in ways not otherwise possible. This increased accessibility enables cutting-edge research on current topics such as unnatural amino acid insertion, virus-like particle production, enzyme immobilization, and high-throughput assays.
These exciting areas of study have the potential to contribute to biotherapeutics, recombinant enzyme development, cancer research, and more (see image to right).
What are Biocatalysts?
Our Research and Biocatalysts
In many industrial applications, biocatalysts are gradually lost as they “wash away” with product streams. Our lab seeks to immobilize biocatalysts using unnatural amino acids in order to preserve their retention and activity. Unnatural amino acids can act as unique targets for immobilization, increasing our control over the procedure. The process of incorporating unnatural amino acids into biocatalysts can be efficiently carried out in cell-free systems due to their open nature.
Virus-like Particles & Cancer Theraputics
The engineering of virus-like particles for highly specific imaging agents, drug delivery vehicles, and vaccine antigens is another major thrust of the Bundy Lab. Separately, the engineering of more effective cancer Therapeutics has been initiated as a new research project.
Icosahedral virus like particle (VLP) is a hollow spherical protein container. Hundreds of identical monomer self-assemble to become a microcompartment. VLPs are genetically modifiable. This property enables us to purify them, encapsidate guest molecules, or decorate the exterior surface with ligands, dye, etc. Currently many biotechnologists utilize VLPs to make drug delivering vehicles, bioimaging materials, vaccines, biochemical reaction vessels.
Dr. Bundy Shares About Biocatalysis
BYU Radio Morning Shows
Dr. Bundy’s research team would like to thank the following for providing funding for our research.
DARPA (Department of Defense)
National Science Foundation (CBET Division)
National Pork Board (Foreign Animal Disease)
NASA (Rocky Mountain Space Grant Consortium)
BYU (ORCA/Graduate Studies)