Texas A&M researcher develops technology that offers hope for patients with injuries or degenerative diseases.
By Crystal Carter, Texas A&M Innovation, December 12, 2023
Envision a future where enzymes, antibodies, growth factors, and peptide recognition sequences can be effortlessly incorporated into biomaterials; Ultrabithorax Biomaterial-X (Ubx) has the potential to deliver on that vision.
Ubx, a recombinant transcription factor protein designed by Sarah Bondos, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Genetics at Texas A&M University School of Medicine, and her team, is capable of seamlessly integrating with proteins. What makes this discovery particularly groundbreaking is the extensive range of proteins that are amenable to fusion with Ubx. “Anything that a protein can do we can now make materials do,” Bondos said. “We’re not limited to the nature of the protein anymore.”
Texas A&M Innovation provides technology licensing and commercialization support to Bondos, lead inventor and her team to explore the full potential of Ubx. Collaborations with industry partner, Bondwell Technologies, and further research endeavors are expected to bring this biomaterial closer to practical implementation.
Ubx was originally discovered in the common fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster). Ubx has proven to be a catalyst for significant developments in the understanding of genetic regulation and its application in various fields. The cutting-edge materials composed of Ubx exhibit the remarkable ability to replicate the natural properties of elastin, opening the door to a myriad of applications across various industries, particularly in healthcare and biotechnology.
Finding novel applications for the Ubx technology
The work of Bondos to redefine the landscape of biomaterials has continued to make an impact, particularly with her research on Ubx. The potential of Ubx in stimulating tissue regeneration and repair offers hope for patients with injuries or degenerative diseases. The ability to engineer Ubx provides a powerful tool for orchestrating tissue development and repair processes and opens the door to unparalleled customization and targeted therapeutic approaches. “Together with Dr. Kayla Bayless’s laboratory, we have created materials that stimulate the formation of new blood vessels,” Bondos said. “These materials could be used to help heal wounds in diabetic patients, supplement blood flow to areas of the heart at risk for a heart attack, or safely expedite healing after deploying a vascular stent.”
One of the key advantages of Ubx is its ability to mimic the elasticity and flexibility of natural elastin, a protein that plays a crucial role in the structure and function of tissues like skin, blood vessels, and lungs. This inherent similarity to elastin makes Ubx an ideal candidate for creating biomaterials that closely resemble the body’s natural environment.
Beyond the laboratory, Ubx technology has found applications in the burgeoning field of synthetic biology. The journey from understanding the role of Ubx in fruit flies to its applications in genetic engineering, agriculture, regenerative medicine, synthetic biology, and pharmaceuticals showcases the versatility and far-reaching implications of this remarkable protein.
Bondos completed her Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a B.S. in chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Texas A&M Innovation promotes an innovative and entrepreneurial culture among A&M’s research community and uses a rigorous process to guide projects from new innovations through market commercialization. We encourage industry partnerships, support startups and entrepreneurial commercialization, make connections to mentors, funding, and other critical resources to accelerate commercialization of System IP. Through our work we strive to promote regional economic development, and ultimately impact the lives of people locally, nationally and globally.