Professor Christina Smolke
Schools of Engineering & Medicine, Stanford University, U.S.A.
Plants are a rich source of medicinal compounds. However, the discovery, synthesis, and supply chains for plant-based medicines remain ad hoc, biased, and tedious. While microbial biosynthesis presents compelling alternatives to traditional approaches based on extraction from natural plant hosts, ... READ MOREmany challenges exist in the reconstruction of plant specialized metabolic pathways in microbial hosts. We have developed approaches to address the challenges that arise in the reconstruction of complex plant biosynthetic pathways in microorganisms. We have recently applied these strategies to develop yeast production platforms for important classes of plant alkaloids, including the tropane alkaloids.
Tropane alkaloids from nightshade plants are neurotransmitter inhibitors used for treating neuromuscular disorders and are classified as essential medicines by the World Health Organization. We engineered baker’s yeast to produce natural and non-natural medicinal tropane alkaloids starting from simple sugars and amino acids. We combined functional genomics to identify missing pathway enzymes, protein engineering to enable functional acyltransferase expression via trafficking to the vacuole, and strain optimization to improve titers. We further demonstrated that strategies to address metabolite transport limitations can further increase tropane alkaloid production. Our integrated system positions >20 proteins adapted from yeast, bacteria, plants, and animals across six sub-cellular locations to recapitulate the spatial organization of tropane alkaloid biosynthesis in plants. Microbial biosynthesis platforms can facilitate discovery of novel plant natural product derivatives as novel therapeutics for neurological disease and, once scaled, enable robust and agile supply of these essential medicines.
Professor Hala Zreiqat
Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials Research Unit, The University of Sydney, Australia
The growing clinical need for synthetics that specifically enhance the repair of large bone defects and aged bone matched by the escalating demand for grafts, is driven largely by an ageing population whose natural regenerative responses are impaired. This presentation will describe our strategies in 1) developing a platform of patented ... READ MOREengineered nanostructured, 3D-printed biomaterials for cell-free personalised treatment to promoting bone healing in load bearing challenging situations. 2) Our approach to replace direct stem cell transplantation for bone repair and regeneration. 3) Our anti-senescence biomaterial approach for enhanced regeneration of aged bone. Our technologies open avenues for skeletal tissue regeneration in various clinical applications.
Professor Reinhard Faessler
Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Germany
Cell adhesion is essential for multicellular life. Integrins mediate adhesion to the extracellular matrix and transduce the ‘adhesion’ information into numerous subcellular compartments. The outcomes of this information flow are cell survival and plasma membrane dynamics leading to ... READ MOREcell shape changes required for cell migration and cell proliferation. The mechanisms leading to integrin-mediated cell shape changes are discussed at the meeting.