This episode is about the use of synthetic organisms to produce pharmaceuticals and other high-value products.
Preceding the development of synthetic drugs in the 18th and 19th centuries, medicine relied on the use of products found in nature. It is not surprising even nowadays that a lot of drug discovery undertaken by the pharmaceutical industry incorporates compounds found in nature. Biotechnology offers the opportunity to create these same natural products in large quantities, in a sustainable manner.
In order to do that, bioscientists can take genes for metabolic pathways that create a specific compound with human health benefits from plant genomes and replicate them in microorganisms such as bacteria and yeast. These modified microbes can now be used as factories to sustainably and efficiently produce the drug of interest in the lab or in a controlled industrial environment.
To help us understand this topic a bit better and the potential advantages and challenges of this technology, Joan Cortada-Carcia interviewed Dr. Tessa Moses, a former postdoc in the Rosser lab group at the University of Edinburgh and current head of metabolomics at the university’s mass spectrometry facility called Edinomics. Media by Hanna Peach.
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