Innovations

Mosquitoes from the genus Anopheles transmit the protozoan that causes malaria.

Mosquitoes from the genus Anopheles transmit the protozoan that causes malaria.

On Developing an Algal-based Cure for Malaria

June 17, 2012, by Dr. Stephen Mayfield
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

Over the past ten years, work from our lab has identified mechanisms of chloroplast gene expression that have allowed for development of recombinant protein expression and metabolic engineering in the algal chloroplast.

Transformation of algae is relatively easy. You can transform either the nuclear or the chloroplast genome. If you get DNA in, and you have a good selectable marker and a good selection system, you can get transformation.

There are rather complex structures that fold into three-dimensional RNA elements that are bound by protein factors, and that is a requirement for translation. We still haven’t sorted this all out, but we’ve identified a number of elements that are required, and a number of proteins that interact in order to get translation.

Having accumulated these proteins and showing that they were bioactive, we went back to ask, “What’s the advantage of expressing something inside of a chloroplast, or inside of an algae? What biological advantages does that give you over expressing the protein in a bacterial or a mammalian cell culture?”

So one of the things that the lab came up with was to try and express malarial proteins. And the reason we wanted to express these was because malarial proteins have many different domains inside of them, folded in very complex proteins. Malaria is a euchariotic parasite, and their proteins form complex structures that have many disulfite bonds, but the proteins are not glycosolated.

That’s important because when you try to express these proteins in bacterial systems, they are incapable of doing the complex fold and they won’t form disulfate bonds. If you’re trying to express these in mammalian systems, they’ll form the disulfite bonds and correctly fold them, but then they decorate the proteins with sugar—they glycosolate them—so that if you use these as a vaccine, you end up getting antibodies to the sugars rather than the proteins.

Mayfield Lab team (L to R): Javier Gimpel, Dan Barrera, Liz Specht, Beth Rasala, Jamie Gregory, Stephen Mayfield, Carla Jones, Mike Hannon, Trang Le, Miller Tran, Julie Kim, Crystal Warning

Mayfield Lab team (L to R): Javier Gimpel, Dan Barrera, Liz Specht, Beth Rasala, Jamie Gregory, Stephen Mayfield, Carla Jones, Mike Hannon, Trang Le, Miller Tran, Julie Kim, Crystal Warning

So, we knew that inside of chloroplasts—inside of all plastids—we could fold complex proteins. We could make disulfate bonds. But we also knew there was no mechanism to glycosolate these. So we expressed three different surface antigens, PFS-25, 28 and 45. All of those proteins accumulate very well inside the chloroplast. Importantly, they all fold correctly. So then, antibodies directed against native proteins, which only recognize the correctly folded native proteins, also recognized the algal-expressed proteins.

Most importantly, when we injected these proteins into mice, the mice-generated antibodies recognized the correctly folded proteins, and we had an immune response. Those antibodies blocked malaria transmission within the mice.

It’s important to understand, for something like malaria, that most recombinant vaccines today cost about a hundred dollars a dose, and generally you need two or three injections. So clearly for the people in the malaria belt—and there are about two billion people on this planet in the malaria belt—they simply do not have the resources to even think about spending two or three hundred dollars for a vaccine.

I think these developments using algal proteins are beginning to give us the opportunity to make those vaccines cheap enough that we can think about the real possibility of inoculating two billion people.

A co-founder of the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology (SD-CAB), and Sapphire Energy, Dr. Mayfield is Professor of Molecular Biology, and the John Dove Isaacs Chair of Natural Philosophy, at UC San Diego.

More Like This…

Go to HOME Page

Copyright ©2010-2012 AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com. All rights reserved. Permission required to reprint this article in its entirety. Must include copyright statement and live hyperlinks. Contact editorial@algaeindustrymagazine.com. A.I.M. accepts unsolicited manuscripts for consideration, and takes no responsibility for the validity of claims made in submitted editorial.

From The A.I.M. Archives

— Refresh Page for More Choices
Natural carotenoid specialists Piveg Inc., with production facilities based in Celaya, Central Mexico, has announced immediate availability of natural astaxanthin materia...
The University of Greenwich is leading a €10m international project, called the ‘D-Factory,’ to build a biorefinery to develop the microalga Dunaliella as a sustainable r...
Algae.Tec Ltd has received its first purchase order from Reliance Industrial Investments and Holdings Limited (RIIHL), in connection with the arrangements announced on Ja...
Solazyme, Inc. has announced results for the fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2013. “2013 was a year of great progress for Solazyme as we readied our first...
One of 12 winners of the 2014 Lexus Design Award, the Ooho algae balloon was created by three London-based designers to contribute a solution to the rising number of plas...
Algae is being discussed at the heart of EXPO Milano 2015, the international event that has existed since 1851, spawning world shaping themes and icons, such as the Eiffe...
Libourne, France-based Fermentalg, an industrial biotechnology company that specializes in the production of oils and proteins derived from microalgae, has completed a su...
A series of articles by Stephen Mayfield and the UCSD Laboratory deserve recognition for their articles on algae-based medicines for malaria and cancer. Mayfield and his ...
Algenist®, Solazyme’s anti-aging skincare brand featuring microalgae, has announced its launch in Nordstrom locations throughout the United States. The launch into Nordst...
The Guardian reports that Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.), Canada-based Solarvest has created an inventive system utilizing a specific algal strain to grow and produce EPA ...
Algae manufacturer Cyanotech Corporation has announced implementing three major initiatives to improve Astaxanthin production at their Kailua Kona, Hawaii-based cultivati...
Steven Mufson reports for the Washington Post that Algenol Biofuels estimates hackers have attempted to break into its computers 39 million times in four months this year...
Phys.Org reports that scientists Jolanda Verspagen and Jef Huisman of the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands have concluded that rising CO2 concentrations in the at...
Bookending the upcoming Algae Biomass Summit, Sept. 29-Oct.2 in San Diego, will be industry tours to give attendees a first-hand look at the latest progress in technical ...
Expanding from its initial work in algal biofuels, General Atomic’s (GA’s) Advanced Biological Processes team has focused on the rising need for food globally, specifical...
Oregon State University researchers are combining diatoms, a type of single-celled photosynthetic algae, with nanoparticles to create a sensor capable of detecting minisc...
Chase Ezell writes in Earth911.com about the irony of Algenol’s biggest friction source on the way to marketing their carbon reducing algal-based ethanol being — the EPA ...
Portuguese cement facility, Secil, and microalgae biotechnology company, A4F, also based in Portugal, have formed AlgaFarm, a joint venture to develop the use of cement f...