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Synthetic biology in the real world: Case studies

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Single-step fermentative production of the cholesterol-lowering drug pravastatin

By Caroline Channing

University of Manchester researchers, together with industrial partner DSM, have developed a single-step fermentative method for the production of leading cholesterol-lowering drug, pravastatin.

Pravastatin is normally produced by stereoselective hydroxylation of the natural product compactin, this is an expensive process due to low yields.

The antibiotics producer Penicillium chrysogenum metabolic pathway was re-programmed to produce industrially relevant levels of pravastatin at a pilot production scale. This demonstrates the use of synthetic biology techniques to produce industrially relevant amounts of an important drug.


UK Strategic Plan for Synthetic Biology 2016

Click on the image above to download the UK Synthetic Biology Strategic Plan 2016

New synthetic biology technologies are starting to offer exciting opportunities across a range of industries including manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, biofuels and health.

Research Council funding in collaboration with a wide variety of national and international partners across academia and industry, is supporting the long-term growth of UK synthetic biology, development of a highly skilled workforce and an infrastructure to underpin and enable cutting edge research in industry and academia, as well as providing support for synthetic biology start-up companies.

The pervasive potential of synthetic biology is brought to life through a series of case studies ranging from a biosensor toolkit with the ability to treat chronic conditions such as diabetes through to using enzymes from yeast mould to unlock cleaner routes to producing biofuel.

The wide ranging applications of synthetic biology will play an important role in growing the UK's bioeconomy, creating new jobs and ensuring the UK is a world leader in this area.

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