Cambridge website for Synthetic Biology resources

Compiled by Jim Haseloff at the University of Cambridge. SpannerPlantLogo140This site contains details of recent papers and activity in Synthetic Biology, with particular emphasis on: (i) development of standards in biology and DNA parts, (ii) microbial and (iii) plant systems, (iv) research and teaching in the field at the University of Cambridge, (v) hardware for scientific computing and instrumentation, (vi) tools for scientific productivity and collected miscellany.

Similar to the Cambridge-based Raspberry Pi and OpenLabTools initiatives, we promote the use of low cost and open source tools - in our case for use in biological engineering.

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Production of amorphadiene in yeast, and its conversion to dihydroartemisinic acid, precursor to the antimalarial agent artemisinin

Production of amorphadiene in yeast, and its conversion to dihydroartemisinic acid, precursor to the antimalarial agent artemisinin [Applied Biological Sciences]: "Malaria, caused by Plasmodium sp, results in almost one million deaths and over 200 million new infections annually. The World Health Organization has recommended that artemisinin-based combination therapies be used for treatment of malaria. Artemisinin is a sesquiterpene lactone isolated from the plant Artemisia annua. However, the supply and price of artemisinin fluctuate greatly, and an alternative production method would be valuable to increase availability. We describe progress toward the goal of developing a supply of semisynthetic artemisinin based on production of the artemisinin precursor amorpha-4,11-diene by fermentation from engineered Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and its chemical conversion to dihydroartemisinic acid, which can be subsequently converted to artemisinin. Previous efforts to produce artemisinin precursors used S. cerevisiae S288C overexpressing selected genes of the mevalonate pathway [Ro et al. (2006) Nature 440:940–943]. We have now overexpressed every enzyme of the mevalonate pathway to ERG20 in S. cerevisiae CEN.PK2, and compared production to CEN.PK2 engineered identically to the previously engineered S288C strain. Overexpressing every enzyme of the mevalonate pathway doubled artemisinic acid production, however, amorpha-4,11-diene production was 10-fold higher than artemisinic acid. We therefore focused on amorpha-4,11-diene production. Development of fermentation processes for the reengineered CEN.PK2 amorpha-4,11-diene strain led to production of > 40 g/L product. A chemical process was developed to convert amorpha-4,11-diene to dihydroartemisinic acid, which could subsequently be converted to artemisinin. The strains and procedures described represent a complete process for production of semisynthetic artemisinin."

(Via PNAS - RSS feed of Early Edition articles.)

Research news at Cambridge University

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Online resources, including bibliography, weblinks and posters, for work with the simple plant system, Marchantia polymorpha.

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OpenLabTools: open technology in Cambridge


The OpenLabTools Project is a new initiative for the development of low cost and open access scientific tools at the University of Cambridge. With support from the Raspberry Pi Foundation, student projects include data acquisition, sensing, actuating, processing and 3D manufacturing, see the website.

Research Studies

PhD Studentships in Cambridge

The Board of Graduate Studies manages admission of the University's graduate students. Prospective students should start here - for an introduction to the University of Cambridge, the courses we offer, how to apply for postgraduate study, how your application will be processed, and immigration and other important information.

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