Feb 13, 2012Science and Technology
Pharmaceuticals from crab shells

Scientists at the Vienna University of Technology have succeeded in introducing bacterial genes into the fungus Trichoderma, enabling the fungus to produce important chemicals for the pharmaceutical industry. Viral infections are usually treated with Acetylneuraminic acid (NANA) derived antiviral drugs, which can cost fifty times more than its weight in gold. A research team at Vienna UT, has found a new, eco-friendly way to produce NANA without the cost. The technique involves cultivating the genetically altered Trichoderma line in bioreactors to produce NANA from chitin, a compound commonly found in crustacean shells. The process has been patented by the Vienna University of Technology and will be used for the low cost and eco-friendly production of pharmaceuticals on an industrial scale in the near future.

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