Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Nucleic Acids and Polypeptides Involved in the Production of Cryptophycin

Technology #2863

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David H. Sherman
Managed By
Ed Pagani
Associate Director, Health Technologies 734-763-3558
Patent Protection
US Patent Pending
US Patent Pending


Cryptophycins are a novel chemical compounds characterized by their cyclic structure from which their activity is derived. These compounds are isolated from blue-green algae and have been discovered to have potent cytotoxic activity selectively against tumors. In order to explore the possibility of this compound for anti-cancer applications, more efficient synthesis methods for this compound are required. To date, there are few methods for cryptophycin synthesis which are considered viable or practical on a commercial scale.


Researchers at the University of Michigan have isolated polypeptides involved in cryptophycin biosynthesis and the nucleic acid molecules that encode such polypeptides. The nucleic acid molecules and polypeptides of the invention or variants can be used to more efficiently produce cryptophycins. With this invention, it is possible to generate a wide variety of new cryptophycins via alteration of the enzymes required for cryptophycin biosynthesis. For example, the ability of biosynthetic enzymes to exhibit high levels of stereo-chemical control and relaxed substrate specificity, and the sensitivity of the biological and chemical assays for identifying cryptophycins, allow for production of rational “biologically” derived cryptophycins that have superior properties.

Applications and Advantages


  • synthesis and production of cryptophycins


  • lower cost and increase the overall yields-nl-of cryptophycins
  • synthesis of cryptophycins with superior-nl-properties based on biologically-driven-nl-production