Daily Used Enzymes Can Now Be Grown In Plants
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 Daily Used Enzymes Can Now Be Grown In Plants

Enzymes play a very important role in our Lives – be in enzymes acting within our body or the jeans we wear, the juice we drink and the laundry detergent you use – all are a result of enzyme activity. Currently, the enzymes are created through a costly and laborious process requiring storage. To overcome this an innovative new strategy by Penn’s School of Dental Medicine researchers – is opening new avenues of making these precious proteins.

Two new research studies, led by Penn Dental Medicine biochemist Henry DaniellStudies reveal that enzymes grown in plants are often as effective as the traditional microbial-derived receptor in accomplishing a number of industrial jobs – be it cleaning laundry stais, or removing dye from textiles. Such enzymes have the extra benefit of being shelf-stable in a powdered form and more economical to produce .

Daniell stated that- A number of their enzymes are much more effective than the current processes as you avoid all the stages that are required to process the microbial products: fermentation, purification, and cold storage and transportation. He also stated that – they are excited to have pioneered the production of technology that’s part of routine activities, and can make a significant difference in affordability.

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Phyllozyme, a startup firm has been developed based on this technology and is located at the Pennovation Center, in an incubating environment which has 350 innovators as part of the team at the University’s Pennovation Works development.

At first, Researchers compared 5 new plants produced enzymes to 15 other commercial enzyme products that are now derived from microbes, usually yeast. All are widely used in the industrial sector – enzymes like lipase etc can break down the complex molecules that are present in stains.

In comparing the products to the others, a major difference in staying power was noticed. The enzymes needed to be kept refrigerated, and their action diminished at higher pH or greater temperatures. In contrast, the plant-made products were stable at room temperature for as long as 16 months and remained effective.

Experiments in the Penn Dental Greenhouse, located at Pennovation Works, and at the hydroponic growing facility Fraunhofer demonstrated that producing enzymes in tobacco or lettuce plants could generate significant yields, and that the resulting enzyme products were effective and active, even when plants were harvested at various time points

In a second paper, which specifically examined pectinases, which are enzymes that break down pectin, a natural component of fruits, an additive to foods that were particular, and a part of the cotton fiber. Juice manufacturers use pectinases to maintain their equipment free of pulp build-up. Textile manufacturers use it to break down the coating on cotton which blocks water absorption. Organic cotton fiber doesn’t absorb water until enzymes remove pectin.

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As in the other study, Penn researchers collaborated with scientists from other institutions to pit pectinases against eight commercially microbial-produced liquid pectinases. The plant-made enzymes were shelf stable up to 16 months earlier and worked across a broad range of temperature and pH.

Utilizing gear leveraged in the textile industry, the team revealed that the enzymes could effectively break down pectin in cotton fabric, allowing water to absorb faster this procedure called bioscouring. This is an important step in fabric dyeing.

They also analyzed the leaf-derived enzymes in clarifying orange juice, a measure that enables the juice to more easily liquify and also releases flavor and nutrients from the fruit’s pulp. Here, too, the industrial microbial-derived productions were not equal to if not better than the plant-derived enzymes. Daniell notes that a cocktail of different enzymes may allow juice makers to more fully realize the benefits of juice, releasing indigestible nutrients in the pulp.

Daniell is enthusiastic about the potential of these products to reshape industrial processes, especially because current practices, such as in the textile sector, involve the creation of a great deal of chemical pollutants that may damage waterways around fabric facilities. Cost and safety are other issues he hopes this technology can address.

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Till now there is no movement on cost, or stability. If they sell these enzymes into something such as a juice company, it would be a huge benefit to have a secure, inexpensive, and shelf-stable merchandise they can turn to as an alternative to currently available enzymes.

The enzymes serve as the first protein product made in leaves for commercial usage, as a landmark in the area of genetic engineering.

Mark Wolff, Morton Amsterdam Dean of Penn Dental Medicine stated that – It’s incredible to see a commercial product that will impact so many people and processes emerging from our college and Henry is helping chart a path of innovation that they know we’ll see many other faculty and students following in the coming years.

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