Monday, February 28, 2011

Jay Keasling: 'We can use synthetic biology to make jet fuel'

There is no doubt that synthetic biology is delivering. One of the leading lights in the field is Berkeley Lab's Jay Keasling, a professor of bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley and CEO of the US Department of Energy's Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI). Five years ago, he created yeast cells that eat sugar and convert it into a frontline drug for malaria. It was more than a neat laboratory trick. A new facility being built in Italy will put the bugs to good use and make the drug artemisinin, quickly and cheaply. With each dose expected to cost around 15p, Keasling's bugs could save the lives of millions. Now he is switching his attention to finding a replacement for jet fuel and diesel. More>