Class blog for sharing and commenting on current events in biology.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Fast Synthesis Could Boost Drug Development

"Fast Synthesis Could Boost Drug Development." Fast Synthesis Could Boost Drug Development. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2014.

Peptides, or small protein fragments, are now capable of being drugs because peptides are designed for specific function. Scientists can manipulate the peptide to serve a different function as a drug. It is expected that peptide drugs become a wealthy franchise. The pending issue that manufacturing the peptide drugs takes several weeks is no longer an issue. MIT scientists and chemical engineers designed a way to manufacture the peptide drugs in only hours. The new machinery created only takes a few minutes to perform the chemical reactions needed to add one amino acid to a chain as apposed to an hour each. This is possible with the continuous flow system. The new system has storage vessels for each of the 20 amino acids, which are connected to pumps that pull out the correct amino acid. When the amino acids flow in the chamber, where the reaction takes place, they are heated to speed up the reaction. Researchers have patented the technology. It is believed that only ten machines would be enough to meet the current demand for the peptides; but how much does one machine cost?
            The rapid manufacturing has opened up the doors to many tests and discoveries that were not possible before. Major worldwide issues such as diseases like cancer could potentially benefit from the peptide drugs. The improvement in technology is paving the way for advancement in cancer research and research for other diseases. The peptide drugs could be the next stepping-stones to the cure for cancer.  The peptide drugs will also become a vigorous market and make a lot of money. The fact that the new process will allow for the current demand to be met will allow for an abundance of tests and medical experiments revolving around disease for the most part. The benefits that the peptide drugs could bring are endless. As I read I was constantly wondering what would happen if the peptide drugs actually were able to cure a major disease. Peptide drugs are no longer a dream they are a reality and our society could only benefit from the vast amount of purposes they serve.
            The article had much strength throughout. A major strength was the use of quotes from the actual scientists who created the new system and technology. This really gives the reader a sense of understanding to the mentality of the major breakthrough, rather than facts written down on a page. Another strength of the article was the author’s use of statistics to give the reader a perspective. For example “about 10 machines using the new technology would be enough to meet current demand, which is about 100,000 to 500,000 custom peptides a year”. When I read that statistic I immediately saw the big picture. This raised the question of what will all of these custom peptides go to, what research, and what disease? However, there were also some weaknesses about the article. The article ends with a quote of one of the scientists, who states that the aim is to be able to have next-day or two-day delivery of the peptide units. I wish that the author wrote more on what else the peptides could do, or at least their purpose more specifically as apposed to just talking about how quickly the custom peptides can now be made. 


  1. This review was interesting too read and eye-opening. Veronica did an outstanding job presenting the authors purpose. She understood what they were saying and portrayed it to us as a reader in an understandable way. Veronica also had a well written critique. She explained how their statistics helped the writer but they only focused on the speed of production. Veronica wanted to know more about the peptide specifically. Lastly Veronica had a good statement on the effect on society. She explained how this could open doors into cancer research and prevention. This is something everyone in our world wants to hear about.
    As much as I enjoyed reading Veronica's review there were a few improvements she could have made. Veronica could have given a little less summary on the article. She made it more into an article than a review. Also she could have explained how this opens the door into cancer research. She only stated it didn't explain how this is possible.
    This article is another article that I think everyone should pay attention too. This is what our world needs, cancer prevention. Drugs such as these are objects we need to put great effort into. I hope we can expand on this and Veronica helped me realize this.

  2. Thanks for commenting Lindsay, but Veronica did not state that this drug development could prevent cancer, only that it MAY be used to make drugs that treat it. These machines do open up the field of synthetic peptides by allowing them to be produced at a much greater speed. This will allow them to be mass produced more cheaply, and allow them to be tested and developed faster. I think it is fascinating that we can now use machines to create organic molecules such as peptides and chromosomes. (Ian Baxter did a report on synthetic chromosomes!)