Proteins are fundamental in biological systems as they facilitate most cellular processes, such as gene expression, cell growth, proliferation, nutrient uptake, intercellular communication, and apoptosis. Protein synthesis relies on the information stored in DNA, which is transcribed into messenger RNA (mRNA) in a highly regulated process, and then translated into defined sequences of aminoacids forming a protein. This protein synthesis process follows a two-step sequence in all organisms: first, DNA is transcribed into RNA, and then RNA is translated into protein.

In recent decades, genetic engineering has enabled the production of recombinant proteins, which are proteins obtained from organisms different from the originals. This has led to the biotechnology industry focusing on health improvement. To obtain these proteins, the corresponding gene is inserted into a bacterial plasmid and then transferred to cells that produce them. Different expression systems are used, such as the bacteria E.coli or more complex systems like yeasts, insect cells, mammalian cells, or plants, depending on the desired protein.

Having various applications, this article will explore how recombinant proteins have various therapeutic applications, such as human insulin or interferon to treat diseases like multiple sclerosis.

Recombinant proteins in biomedical research

Recombinant proteins are essential both in basic biomedical research and advanced laboratory techniques. On one hand, they are crucial for the detailed study of fundamental biological processes, allowing the elucidation of the structure and function of specific proteins through techniques like X-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance. This precise knowledge not only reveals how proteins interact with each other and other molecules in the body, but also opens new paths for drug design and innovative therapies.

On the other hand, recombinant proteins are versatile tools in a variety of laboratory techniques, such as immunohistochemistry, ELISA, and western blot. They are used to develop enzymatic assays and, when combined with appropriate antibody pairs, can be used as standards in ELISA and as positive controls in western blots and IHC. Additionally, they are essential for exploring complex protein interactions, a crucial aspect in numerous cellular processes, using techniques like recombinant protein microarrays. These proteins are also valuable for investigating cellular responses to stress and disease. Another completely different application would be in animal models, where recombinant proteins and peptides are fundamental tools to identify potential novel therapeutic candidates.

The fundamental role of recombinant proteins in targeted therapies

In many targeted therapies, especially in the treatment of cancer and autoimmune diseases, monoclonal antibodies are used as key therapeutic tools. These monoclonal antibodies are designed to specifically target proteins or cells involved in the disease, allowing them to selectively attack cancer cells or regulate the body’s immune response. Being highly specific, monoclonal antibodies minimize the undesired side effects associated with conventional treatments, such as chemotherapy.

A key protein in the development of targeted therapies is the Fc receptor. The mammalian immune system has evolved to defend organisms against pathogens by overlaying the specificity of adaptive immunity over the innate immunity. Fc receptors act as a bridge between adaptive and innate immunity, bringing the cellular response power of innate immunity to the antibody binding site. In humans, there are several Fc receptors. Although all serve an important biological purpose, recombinant Fc gamma receptors are of most interest in the development of therapeutic antibodies, as most antibodies or related molecules in development are of the IgG subclass.

The promising future of recombinant proteins

Recombinant proteins have transcended the boundaries of conventional biotechnology, unleashing a landscape of innovation and future applications. At the front of this revolution, new expression technologies are being developed that promise to optimize protein production with greater efficiency and precision. This will improve advances in personalized medicine, enabling more specific and effective therapies. In this horizon of possibilities, recombinant proteins emerge as fundamental pillars to address the most demanding challenges of our time.

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