PHILADELPHIA, March 26 (UPI) -- A team of U.S. biochemists say they have created a completely new type of protein that can transport oxygen similar to human neuroglobin.
The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine scientists say their technology might some day be used to make artificial blood for use on the battlefield or by emergency-care professionals.
"This is quite a different way of making novel proteins than the rest of the world," said Professor P. Leslie Dutton, senior author of the study. "We've created an unusually simple and relatively small protein that has a function, which is to carry oxygen. No one else has ever done this before."
Study co-author Christopher Moser, associate director of the university's Johnson Foundation, said the scientists designed the new protein from principles they discovered while studying natural proteins.
"For example, we found that natural proteins are complex and fragile and when we make new proteins we want them to be simple and robust," said Moser. "That's why we're not re-engineering a natural protein, but making one from scratch."
The research is detailed in the journal Nature.