The degenerative aging of the immune system is responsible for an enormous burden of disease and disability, from the pain of recurrent Herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia, to elevated rates of chronic urinary tract infections, to complications in wounds, pressure sores, ulcers, and surgical incisions. Most prominently, it underlies the meteoric rise in mortality from respiratory infections with age: influenza, pneumonia, and septicemia rise from being negligible causes of death in healthy middle-aged adults in the USA, to emerge amongst the top 10 causes of death in adults over the age of 55, with mortality rates climbing with each successive year of aging.
Zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) are engineered DNA-binding proteins with remarkable, highly programmable sequence-specificity. However, their widespread use has been slowed by licensing issues and the technical difficulty of synthesising new variants. A new platform, CoDA (context-dependent assembly), promises to make these exceptionally useful tools available to a far greater number of researchers.
One of our priorities at the SENS Foundation Research Center has been to overcome the limitations of our ability to test potential A2E-degrading enzymes caused by a restricted supply of the target molecule (A2E). We have now successfully synthesized A2E, purifying it by flash chromatography and HPLC, and confirming it to be identical to that produced in Janet Sparrow's laboratory through different analytical tests.