SCIENCE IN THE NEWS DAILY
Synthetic Yeast to Brew Up Vital Malaria Drug
from New Scientist
A synthetic organism could be producing enough of a key malaria drug to treat the world within three years.
A species of yeast has been fitted with synthetic genes that make a compound called artemisinin, which is used to treat multi-drug resistant strains of malaria. The chemical is currently extracted from a Chinese wormwood shrub called Artemisia annua, but this is a relatively expensive process.
Jay Keasling, of the University of California, Berkeley, and colleagues announced 2 years ago that they had engineered artimisinic acid-producing yeast by inserting around 12 synthetic genes which had been copied from A. annua and several other species. They have now optimised the process and are scaling it up for industrial production in partnership with drugs giant Sanofi-Aventis.
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PODCASTS: From Balloons to Space Stations: Studying Cosmic Rays
Cosmic rays have mysterious qualities about them that scientists continue to research in order to better understand their origins and composition. Dr. Eun-Suk Seo, a professor of physics at the University of Maryland, and her colleagues, fly enormous balloons as large as a football stadium and a volume of 40-million-cubic feet for extended periods over Antarctica to study particles coming from cosmic rays before they break up in the atmosphere.
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