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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Review

Medical bioremediation of age-related diseases

Jacques M Mathieu1*, John Schloendorn2, Bruce E Rittmann2 and Pedro JJ Alvarez1

Author Affiliations

1 Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Rice University, Houston, TX, USA

2 Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA

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Microbial Cell Factories 2009, 8:21  doi:10.1186/1475-2859-8-21

Published: 9 April 2009


Catabolic insufficiency in humans leads to the gradual accumulation of a number of pathogenic compounds associated with age-related diseases, including atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, and macular degeneration. Removal of these compounds is a widely researched therapeutic option, but the use of antibodies and endogenous human enzymes has failed to produce effective treatments, and may pose risks to cellular homeostasis. Another alternative is "medical bioremediation," the use of microbial enzymes to augment missing catabolic functions. The microbial genetic diversity in most natural environments provides a resource that can be mined for enzymes capable of degrading just about any energy-rich organic compound. This review discusses targets for biodegradation, the identification of candidate microbial enzymes, and enzyme-delivery methods.