Patent published on September 7, 2023

VIB's Patent Could Turn Proteins into New Materials for Medicine and Tech

Bacteria, often denigrated for causing diseases, is about to have a favorable turn in the narrative, thanks to a recent patent filed by the company VIB (patent number: US20230279059A1). The company has discovered a way to transform protein fibers found in a specific type of bacteria into nanostructures, potentially helping drive advancements in medicine and biotechnology.

The problem lying at the heart of this patent is the structural integrity of self-assembled protein structures, which have functionalities offering numerous applications in diverse areas of bioengineering. These proteins, taken from a form of bacteria named Bacillus, are primarily used to create complex structures such as nanoparticles and vesicles. However, they turn out to be sensitive to their environment, with their stability getting hampered to a great extent.

The patent by VIB offers a solution to this issue, sorting a way to create more stable structures. The scientists at VIB have devised a method that allows these proteins to assemble like Lego blocks, creating new shapes, nanofibers, and other mini structures. By doing so, these new creations become more reliable and less susceptible to environmental factors, thus expanding their range of applications.

Once this technology comes into effect, we can expect a significant shift in medicine and biotechnology. Today's medication could be replaced by highly targeted treatments delivered precisely where our body needs it, reducing side effects. Bioengineering fields could also witness a revolution, with the introduction of more stable biochemical structures potentially facilitating advanced research.

One of the key applications of this invention mentioned in the patent is 'Ena Hydrogels', a biomaterial with the potential to transform drug delivery or tissue engineering. As an everyday example, someone suffering from a specific type of cancer might be administered drugs that directly target the cancer cells, reducing the discomfort of the treatment significantly.

However, it is crucial to note that although this technology holds a sea of possibilities, there remains no surety of when this patent will turn into a marketable product as the patent is currently in the application stage.

P.S. Since patents indicate an intention to protect an invention, it doesn't always mean that the product will come to fruition. So we have to wait and hope that the technology soon sees the light of day and revolutionizes medicine and biotechnology.

Explore more