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Metab Eng. 2010 Mar;12(2):81-95. doi: 10.1016/j.ymben.2009.10.004. Epub 2009 Oct 25.

Metabolic flux analysis and pharmaceutical production.

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Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Science and Technology Center, Tufts University, 4 Colby Street, Medford, MA 02155, USA.


Rational engineering of biological systems is an inherently complex process due to their evolved nature. Metabolic engineering emerged and developed over the past 20 years as a field in which methodologies for the rational engineering of biological systems is now being applied to specific industrial, medical, or scientific problems. Of considerable interest is the determination of metabolic fluxes within the cell itself, called metabolic flux analysis. This special issue and this review have a particular interest in the application of metabolic flux analysis for improving the pharmaceutical production process (for both small and large molecules). Though metabolic flux analysis has been somewhat limited in application towards pharmaceutical production, the overall goal is to: (1) have a better understanding of the organism and/or process in question, and (2) provide a rational basis to further engineer (on both metabolic and process scales) improved pharmaceutical production in these organisms. The focus of this review article is to present how experimental and computational methods of metabolic flux analysis have matured, mirroring the maturation of the metabolic engineering field itself, while highlighting some of the successful applications towards both small- and large-molecule pharmaceuticals.

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