researchlabs

Research labs at Penn have missed deadlines for research results and cite a lack of funding from organizations such as the National Institutes of Health, but labs have been fined at this time.

Photo: Courtesy of National Eye Institute | Creative Commons / The Daily Pennsylvanian

Penn Biochemistry professor Henry Daniell and his team have successfully created a software program that alters DNA sequences in tobacco and lettuce plants to produce plant-based medicines. 

For years Daniell has seen success in genetically engineering tobacco and lettuce plants, producing proteins whose uses range from malaria to hemophilia treatment. 

Daniell noticed that plants have species-specific preferences for which codons (three-letter strings of DNA) they use to produce amino acids. After analyzing the genomes of 133 plant species, Daniell and his team identified those most commonly used by plants to develop the software program. 

The software has been made available for use by other researchers. 

The team has followed up on their discovery of the "codon optimization" software by using a head-to-head comparison of the gene generated by the software against the gene found in proteins used for hemophilia treatments and the polio vaccine to determine the level of protein expression. 

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