Project Spotlight. Biliverdin

A Natural Anti-Inflammatory Substance with Enormous Therapeutic Potential

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In 2009, a research team with the Synthetic Bioproducts Center succeeded in utilizing Escherichia coli to produce measurable amounts of the green bile pigment, biliverdin, using synthetic biology.

Biliverdin is now gaining recognition for its ability to defend against inflammatory conditions and damage. It is a naturally occurring substance needed to break down toxic heme from hemoglobin in blood. But, it is also quickly transformed into bilirubin—another bile pigment with highly effective anti-oxidant properties.

"Biliverdin has enormous commercial potential. Recent research supports evidence that biliverdin is an effective cytoprotective agent and can be used as an anti-inflammatory for conditions such as arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and heart disease. " Dr. Jon Takemoto

Associated Faculty


Biliverdin has enormous commercial potential. Recent research supports evidence that biliverdin is an effective cytoprotective agent and can be used as an anti-inflammatory for conditions such as arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and heart disease. Additionally, because it has been shown to have inhibitive properties against the spread of the hepatitis C virus, biliverdin may have ability to inhibit the spread of other viruses such as HIV.

Goals for biliverdin research at USU are two-fold: one, to produce large quantities of biliverdin from non-animal sources and two, to produce high quality pure and active biliverdin.

Dr. Jon Takemoto leads the biliverdin team in the USTAR Synthetic Bioproducts Center at USU. Currently, the biliverdin research team within the SBC have begun scaling up the production of synthetically manufactured biliverdin and laboratory animal testing of this material has begun.


Students Involved

Name Designation
Yuki Kawasaki PhD Student
Garrett Hinton Undergraduate Student