Green Levothyroxine Optimized with Transaminases

Levothyroxine is the second most widely prescribed drug in the US, used to treat over 20 million people with hypothyroidism each year. Its production is notoriously wasteful, however. A racemate resolution step at the very end of its synthesis results in 50% of the product being thrown out, meaning half of all the chemical input to its production line is wasted. Yet nature has learned to be more efficient; a class of enzymes known as transaminases carry out a reaction like the one needed to synthesize levothyroxine but in a chirality-specific manner, meaning all of the product can be kept. This science was the basis for our 2023 project, using transaminases for a greener synthesis of levothyroxine.

Our project was ultimately successful in performing the reaction of interest using transaminases. Because of this great success and our outreach to local schools/ fundraisers for the American Thyroid Association, we were honored with a gold medal at the iGEM Grand Jamboree!

You can find out more about GLOW on our 2023 wiki page.