Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Synthetic Yeast Creates Malaria Drug

According to New Scientist, researchers in California are scaling up for industrial production a process to produce a synthetic strain of yeast engineered to produce a compound called artemisinin, which is used to treat malaria. The current process used to produce the medicine is expensive, but this new process has been optimized such that—within two to three years—they could produce enough of the drug to meet the needs of the entire world.

Attempts to use living organisms to produce medicines have been underway for several years now. If the artemisinin process being commercialized (by Sanofi-Aventis) is successful, it would be the first major production of medication using a synthetic organism.

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