April 12, 2013

Synthetic bio success in anti-malaria drug

The blog does not usually cover the pharmaceuticals market being that I am unfamiliar with the players and the products in this industry. However, this news coming from University of California Berkeley warrants a post as professor of chemical engineering Jay Keasling -- also the co-founder of Amyris, announced that France-based pharmaceutical company Sanofi will launch a large-scale production of a partially synthetic version of artemisinin, a chemical critical in making an anti-malaria drug.

Artemisinin is a compound that until now has been extracted from the sweet wormwood plant Artemsia annua. Keasling and his colleagues at Amyris engineered a yeast strain that can produce artemisinin, which is then turned into the active anti-malarial drug artesunate and typically mixed with another anti-malarial drug in what is called artemisinin combination therapy (ACT).


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