Description of research
The focus of the research in the Sharfstein laboratory is on understanding the role of culture conditions and cell physiology on use of living systems for industrially relevant processes. Our primary area of interest is the use of mammalian cell systems for the production of therapeutic proteins and carbohydrates. We use the tools of modern cell and molecular biology along with “omics” to probe physiological states, with an objective of optimizing production systems both from an engineering perspective (e.g. culture conditions) as well as from a biological perspective (cellular and metabolic engineering). Current projects are focused on the production of heparin (a critically important anticoagulant drug) in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells, characterizing CHO cell clones producing recombinant monoclonal antibodies to identify factors that affect productivity, the effects of osmolarity on monoclonal antibody production in CHO cells, and the effects of growth rate on cell physiology in Escherichia coli.
We are also interested in developing new tools using nanotechnology to better understand cultured cells and bioprocesses. Current projects are focused on patterning cells on surfaces for high throughput delivery of silencing RNA and development of novel biosensors for use in bioreactors.