3 Breakthroughs Made At Hopkins

September 24, 1990

Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University recently announced advances in the creation of a synthetic vitamin D, which could be used as an anti-cancer or anti-psoriasis drug, and a new class of biodegradable polymers for controlled drug delivery and in orthopedics. They also said they have identified two enzymes that can withstand high temperatures.

The findings were presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in August.

A synthetic vitamin D could alter the makeup of natural vitamin D so that it does not assist the growth of cancer cells but also does not disrupt other properties, such as helping the body absorb calcium. Professor Gary Posner and a team of postdoctoral and graduate students created the synthetic vitamin by changing just one of 75 atoms in the compound.

Biomedical engineers headed by Kam Leong developed a new class of polymers that could be used to control the timed release of drugs into the body. The polymers would also allow scientists to vary biodegradability and mechanical strength for use in orthopedics.

University biochemical engineers identified two enzymes that can survive long periods of boiling temperatures that normally destroy other enzymes. Chemical engineering Professor Robert Kelly and a team of graduate students identified the enzyme, known as proteases.

It is used most widely in detergents but also in cheese manufacturing and waste treatment.

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