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Scientists use tardigrade proteins for human health breakthrough

Date: 22.3.2023 

University of Wyoming researchers' study of how microscopic creatures called tardigrades survive extreme conditions has led to a major breakthrough that could eventually make life-saving treatments available to people where refrigeration isn't possible.

Kredit: Thomas Boothby.Thomas Boothby, an assistant professor of molecular biology, and colleagues have shown that natural and engineered versions of tardigrade proteins can be used to stabilize an important pharmaceutical used to treat people with hemophilia and other conditions without the need for refrigeration – even amid high temperatures and other difficult conditions.

The pharmaceutical known as human blood clotting Factor VIII is an essential therapeutic used to treat genetic disease and instances of extreme bleeding. Despite being critical and effective in treating patients in these circumstances, Factor VIII has a serious shortcoming, in that it is inherently unstable. Without stabilization within a precise temperature range, Factor VIII will break down.

According to the research paper, Boothby and his colleagues fine-tuned the biophysical properties of both trehalose and CAHS D to stabilize Factor VIII, noting that CAHS D is most suitable for the treatment. The stabilization allows Factor VIII to be available in austere conditions without refrigeration, including repeated dehydration/rehydration, extreme heat and long-term dry storage.

Image source: Thomas Boothby.




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