S110 Engineering yeast to produce artemisinic acid for anti-malarial drugs
Wednesday, July 23, 2014: 9:00 AM
Regency Ballroom B, Second Floor (St. Louis Hyatt Regency at the Arch)
Jessica M. Walter, Biology, Amyris, Emeryville, CA
Every year, malaria kills over half a million people. Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) are recommended by the World Health Organization for treatment of P. falciparum malaria. In 2005, Amyris received a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant to supplement the scarce botanical supply of artemisinin  by producing  artemisinic acid in engineered yeast. In 2008, Amyris transferred a production strain to Sanofi-Aventis, and the first ACTs manufactured using artemisinic acid from this strain were launched in 2013. Amyris has continued to improve its strains to make other products such as biofuels, with considerable progress made in pushing titers and yields. By re-applying lessons learned from biofuels to the problem of artemisinic acid, we have built a new strain that doubles the flask titers achieved by the original production strain. In addition, the improved strain does not require ethanol feed or galactose induction, and thus could potentially achieve much more favorable process economics.