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4 Fast Facts About Bioengineering Medicinal Compounds

  1. The supply of medications made from biological compounds, such as opioids, is sometimes limited by the process by which they’re created by natural resource scarcity.
  2. Applying synthetic biology to the development process can offer an alternative source for opioids and other compounds, leading to more stable, secure supply chains.
  3. A Stanford University lab, with funding from NCCIH, was the first in the world to produce synthetic hydrocodone by reproducing complex plant pathways in baker’s yeast.
    • Their biotechnology platform reduced the production time for plant-based opioids from 1 year to a few days.
  4. Stable, scalable, and economically-efficient microbial fermentation can help us engineer biological compounds and present alternative sources for medicinal compounds.
    • Dr. Christina Smolke, head of the Stanford lab, will discuss her team’s work in developing foundational tools to new pathways in the development of biological compounds.

Interested in learning more about Dr. Smolke’s advances in microbial biosynthesis? View the recording of her lecture at NIH Videocast.