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Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2005 Aug;16(4):416-21.

New proteins in a materials world.

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  • 1Genencor International, 925 Page Mill Road, Palo Alto, California 94304-1013, USA.


With the development of protein engineering, protein expression, and nano(bio)technologies, the ability to use 20 or more amino acids to design and produce genetically engineered protein materials is now possible. Proteins derived from natural sources offer one route for the production of new materials and many have been modified or formulated for improved performance. The development of synthetic polymer systems provides a second route to new materials: the concept of using a library of monomers and having the methods to precisely order them to design and produce a new polymer is a long-sought objective of polymer scientists. Recent advances have been made in the development of synthetic proteins for novel applications. Insight into the structures of some of nature's most intriguing materials, such as diatom frustules, has revealed a major role for proteins in facilitating and templating inorganic composites resulting in the development of bio-inspired materials.

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