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October 10th, 2019

Though hacking organisms and rearranging genomes may sound scary, there is definitely a Light Side to this narrative (a balance, if you will). From medicines to biofuels and everything in between, there is incredible potential for cleverly redesigned biology to help us take on some of our world’s most pressing challenges in sustainability.

One of the first success stories in the field was engineering yeast to convert sugar into the precursor to artemisinin, the key molecule used in malaria treatments. It’s an expensive endeavor to grow a field of Chinese sweet wormwood plants, harvest the field, and extract the small traces of artemisinin found in the plant leaves. Now, we can more directly brew the malaria treatment in giant fermenters, concentrating most of our resources on producing the specific molecule we want rather than growing up all the other parts of a leafy plant. Read more …