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Metabolic Engineering
Volume 77, 2023, Pages 283-293

A contribution of metabolic engineering to addressing medical problems: Metabolic flux analysis

GaRyoung Leea,1, Sang Mi Leea,1, Hyun Uk Kima,b

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), Daejeon, 34141, Republic of Korea.


Metabolic engineering has served as a systematic discipline for industrial biotechnology as it has offered systematic tools and methods for strain development and bioprocess optimization. Because these metabolic engineering tools and methods are concerned with the biological network of a cell with emphasis on metabolic network, they have also been applied to a range of medical problems where better understanding of metabolism has also been perceived to be important. Metabolic flux analysis (MFA) is a unique systematic approach initially developed in the metabolic engineering community, and has proved its usefulness and potential when addressing a range of medical problems. In this regard, this review discusses the contribution of MFA to addressing medical problems. For this, we i) provide overview of the milestones of MFA, ii) define two main branches of MFA, namely constraint-based reconstruction and analysis (COBRA) and isotope-based MFA (iMFA), and iii) present successful examples of their medical applications, including characterizing the metabolism of diseased cells and pathogens, and identifying effective drug targets. Finally, synergistic interactions between metabolic engineering and biomedical sciences are discussed with respect to MFA.

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