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A new career for yeast

Yeast may rise to the occasion and help scientists make medicines for sick people, according to new research. Image courtesy of Scott Bauer, FDA.
Click here for a high resolution photograph.

What can yeast do besides help people make bread? Scientists are now using yeast to produce proteins that could help make medicines for sick people. Stephen R. Hamilton and his colleagues used the tools of genetic engineering to partially "re-wire" the yeast species Pichia pastoris.

This yeast can now produce certain proteins found in the human body. Because yeast is a relatively simple and rapidly growing creature, it might be better at producing human proteins for medicine-related uses than the cells from mammals that are currently used.

The authors say that yeast's ability to generate certain human proteins could lead to the production of better and safer drugs. These findings are published in the 29 August, 2003 issue of the journal Science, published by AAAS, the science society. This research was conducted at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire and GlycoFi Inc. in Lebanon, New Hampshire.


CONTACT: Tillman Gerngross at 603-646-3161 (phone), 603-646-2277 (fax) or tillman.gerngross@dartmouth.edu (email)

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Science is published by AAAS, the science society.