Novel Proteins: A New Hope for a Sustainable Future
Unveil the pages of this illuminating report to embark on a journey that transcends the boundaries of conventional thought. Immerse yourself in a tapestry of innovative research, where visionary scientists unravel the hidden potential of proteins, forging a transformative path toward global sustainability.
Nowadays, biotechnology is broadly involved in the synthesis of new proteins. Some articles discussed in this paper report on how new proteins can be applied in treating health-related disease: Medical press clarified how novel proteins are used in treating atherosclerosis (Radboud university, 2021). Most other articles focus on the impact of such synthesis on issues with nutrient deficiency of cattle feed and its sustainable production: Biomolecule.ru discusses the special proteins designed by companies and their use in effective production of cattle feed (Mariya Loyko, 2020). This scientific report will analyze information from some scientific articles and discuss the influence of new proteins on global environmental and social predicaments.
There are many new proteins produced by biotechnology as a treatment for serious health diseases. Scientists in Radboud university in the Netherlands have discovered a new protein for treating atherosclerosis - one of the main cardiovascular diseases that leads to strokes and heart attacks. Inflammation in atherosclerosis is caused by macrophages. Cells are increasing their metabolic rates, which is the main cause of the disease. Therefore a group of researchers of the Radboud University investigated the effects of the protein complex called mTOR2 which is responsible for “metabolic switches” during atherosclerosis by making clinical observations in mouse models (Radboud University, 2021). “We want to identify who these actors are, what they are doing, and how we can understand their function in a way that provides a foundation for future therapeutic opportunities'', said Mark Feinberg, MD, senior author and member of the Brigham's Division of Cardiovascular Medicine (Brigham and Women's Hospital, 2020). Later, they utilized long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs)3 which were not translated into proteins during the synthesis. This played a major role in discovering a new protein that is able to regulate cells and disease progression. By these scientific observations, researchers identified codons which can inhibit the inflammatory effects of macrophages ( Geo j, Li Z, 2022). Specific combinations of amino acids they have combined led to therapeutic effects: “We saw after only a single week of treatment that atherosclerotic lesions shrinked and the inflammation decreased" (medical press, 2021).
Fig 1. Atherosclerosis damage to cardiovascular system (Retrieved from: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-12-non-coding-rna-key-role-cardiovascular.html)
Table 1. Advantages and disadvantages of the new protein designed for treating atherosclerosis (impact on social factor)
The protein discussed above may be both advantageous and disadvantageous. More than 90% of people experience heart attacks from atherosclerosis, which takes its toll in society and has become a significant global problem (Sabrina Felson, 2021). The disadvantage of this protein is that it has not had a proper identification in full-fledged treatments, so results have never confirmed its beneficial effect on health. However, some clinical trials, which have already been conducted, showed significant inflammatory decrease in atherosclerotic plaques4, and scientists tend to believe in the reactions that this protein facilitates: "We saw substantial expression of the revealed protein in macrophages in atherosclerotic plaques and this was related to their inflammatory activity. It confirms that prosaposin plays a key role in atherosclerosis, and is a potential new therapeutic target for the treatment of atherosclerosis"( Radboud University, 2021). This raises hope that the novel protein could play a pivotal role in addressing critical societal diseases.
Furthermore, pharmacogenetics5 does not require the use of specialized machinery emitting harmful substances into the environment, it also proves to be environmentally friendly.
Another field in which protein synthesis can be applied successfully is microbial biotechnology within protein fermentation; a field in which this technology is particularly promising for solving the issue of both nutrient deficiency and unsustainable production of cattle feed.. According to Tengrinews, during 2021 in Kazakhstan, more than 5 thousand horses died as the result of high prices of horse feed and its nutrient deficient contents(Shokan Alkhabaev, 2021). By using biotechnology within the fermentation techniques, University of Denmark in collaboration with the Unibio company developed a so-called Unibio U-Loop technology that was used to create a new protein – the Uniprotein. Uniprotein is designed to be used in feed-supplements for livestock by agricultural factories and feed manufacturers. This protein is not genetically synthesized, but naturally synthesized by using methanotrophic bacteria 6, natural gas (methane), nitrates and oxygen, since it is synthesized by aerobic processes(biomolecula, 2020). Initially, leaves and dead fish decompose and methane is released in water. At this step methanotrophic bacteria consume the gas in the minerals and oxygen simultaneously by becoming rich in protein. Next, a specialized U-loop fermenter is filled with methanotrophic bacteria, into which natural gas, minerals, oxygen and other elements are introduced. This controlled environment fosters the thriving of methanotrophic bacteria, which consume methane and produce a protein-rich broth. Subsequently, this protein-rich mixture is propelled into a drying tower, where it undergoes further processing to yield freshly synthesized proteins (unibo, n.d). (See Fig2)
Fig 2. The technology applied to develop Uniprotein. (Retrieved from:
Table 2. Advantages and disadvantages of Uniprotein (impact on environmental factor)
There are some positive and negative aspects of Uniprotein. Its production emits some gasses into the atmosphere, which is disadvantageous, however, in comparison with other industries, the quantity of waste and emissions is significantly lower. A scientific candidate in Unibio company says that : “Annually industrial companies emit around 200 millions m3 of natural gas. Methane (which is the principal component of natural gas – about 92%) is flared at whichever temperature, it follows the reaction CH4 + 2 O2 > CO₂ + 2 H2O. In 200 million m3 of CO₂ there is thus 363 106 kg = 363,000 tonnes CO₂. By using 200 million m3 of natural gas for Uniprotein production a 52% reduction in CO₂ emissions is thus achieved” (Alexandra Sexton, 2016). This suggests that the production of Uniprotein imposes a reduced environmental burden, contributing to sustainable resource utilization. Furthermore, Uniprotein consists of essential amino acids crucial for cattle nutrition. In comparison to crude proteins found in typical compound feeds, it consists of a greater abundance of different amino acids, noticeably lysine, which is highly demanded by cattle (graph 1). The production of Uniprotein is remarkably fast, with bacteria reproducing in approximately 20 minutes( BYJU’s, n.d). These factors underscore the benefits and efficiency of Uniprotein and its production.
Graph 1. The relationship of amino acids of Uniprotein in comparison with ordinary proteins that are used in compound feeds for cattle (Retrieved from: https://www.unibio.dk/end product/amino-acid-profile/)
In conclusion, protein synthesis, coupled with advancements in biotechnology, has found diverse applications across many areas. Ongoing research continues to explore new protein structures,with mostly useful applications. This report has discussed the effects of some newly discovered proteins and their applications as solutions to both environmental and health-related challenges.
Amino acid profile. Unibio. (2022, October 3). Retrieved October 11, 2022, from https://www.unibio.dk/end-product/amino-acid-profile/
Brigham and Women's Hospital. (2020, December 17). Long non-coding RNA may play a key role in cardiovascular disease. Medical Xpress - medical research advances and health news. Retrieved October 11, 2022, from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-12- non-coding-rna-key-role-cardiovascular.html
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Unibio Protein. Unibio. (2022, October 3). Retrieved October 11, 2022, from https://www.unibio.dk/end-product/protein/
Radboud university. (2021, March 11). Discovery of new protein with an important role in atherosclerosis. Medical Xpress - medical research advances and health news. Retrieved October 11, 2022, from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-03discovery protein-important-role-atherosclerosis.html
Лойко, М. (2020). Протеиновые инвестиции. Биомолекула. Retrieved October 11, 2022, from https://biomolecula.ru/articles/proteinovye-investitsii