Synthetic Biologist Explores Power of Industrial Biotechnology to Produce Novel Fuels and Medicines

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 23, 2007) – Dr. Jay Keasling, director of the University of California Berkeley Center for Synthetic Biology, today called on the biotechnology industry to further address the world’s needs for alternative fuels and new medicines during BIO’s World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing. The fourth annual World Congress runs March 21-24 at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Fla.

In a speech titled “Redesigning Life from the Ground Up: Applications and Implications of Synthetic Biology,” Keasling discussed his research in synthetic biology, which seeks to standardize and describe genetic code that can become the building blocks for novel biotechnology processes. Keasling described his work engineering a yeast containing new genes from the Artemisia annua plant that can produce a low-cost version of artemisinin, the most effective and expensive anti-malarial drug.

Keasling also described his efforts to use synthetic biology to produce novel fuels. Keasling is a head researcher at the Energy Biosciences Institute, established in partnership with diversified energy company BP. Keasling called industrial biotechnology a powerful tool, saying, “Renewable energy and medicines for the developing world are certainly problems that we can solve.”

Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, said, “Jay Keasling is truly a pioneer in the field of synthetic biology. Synthetic genomics is one of the powerful technologies now being used to create a new industrial revolution, based on industrial biotechnology. Dr. Keasling’s research seeks to expand the biotechnology process from expressing single proteins within cells to recreating complex chemical processes within engineered organisms.”

At other sessions during the Congress, executives from industrial biotechnology companies involved in production of fuels, chemicals, plastics and pharmaceuticals discussed the measures necessary to fully commercialize the technology and build a successful industry. Metabolix and Fish & Richardson executives discussed, “Going Green: Ins and Outs of Growing a Green Start-Up,” while executives from Diversa, DuPont, Celunol, and Iogen explored, “Making the Big Bet – Success in Developing Effective Cellulosic Ethanol Alliances.”

The World Congress is hosted by the BIO, the American Chemical Society, the National Agricultural Biotechnology Council, the European Federation of Biotechnology, BIOTECanada and EuropaBIO.

About BIO
BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and 31 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the annual BIO International Convention, the world’s largest biotechnology conference and exhibition.

Upcoming BIO Events

BIO International Convention
May 6-9, 2007
Boston, MA

BIO VentureForum-East 2007
June 18-20, 2007
Montreal, Canada

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About BIO
BIO is the world's largest trade association representing biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the BIO International Convention, the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world. BIOtechNOW is BIO's blog chronicling “innovations transforming our world” and the BIO Newsletter is the organization’s bi-weekly email newsletter. Subscribe to the BIO Newsletter.