Hamline News

Professor Betsy Martinez-Vaz and Ashley Robinson '21 Published

Biology Professor Betsy Martinez-Vaz, Ashley Robinson '21, and colleagues from the University of Minnesota recently published an article in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology titled: "Filling in the Gaps in Metformin Biodegradation: A New Enzyme and a Metabolic Pathway for Guanylurea."

This study describes the discovery and characterization of a novel enzyme that catalyzes the second step in the microbial degradation pathway of Metformin, the most commonly prescribed type 2 diabetes medication in the United States and many other countries around the world. Metformin and its proposed “dead-end” product, guanylurea, are not completely metabolized by humans and thus cannot be removed using conventional water treatment processes. Both compounds are classified as emerging pollutants in water.

Future research in Martinez-Vaz’s lab would focus on identifying other enzymes involved in Metformin metabolism and isolating bacteria capable of degrading widely used pharmaceuticals and agricultural additives. Part of the work that Ashley Robinson contributed to the article was supported by the Hamline Summer Collaborative Research Program.

Link to the article.