March 20, 2011- A group of Canadian scientists based in Saskatchewan have attained a huge breakthrough in the battle against Malaria. Researchers with the National Research Council in the city of Saskatoon have created a type of yeast from genetic engineering that will form part of the useful drug artemisinin which is used to protect people from malaria.
National Research Council head scientist, Dr. Patrick Covello, was the head researcher who uncovered the key genes that must be used. Sanofi-aventis, the drug maker based in France, will apply the genes to “reprogram” the genetically modified yeast. While the yeast usually makes ethanol, with the new genes the yeast will now make the drug-containing combination.
“So they’ve introduced these genes into yeast, and they ferment it much like beer is fermented, and then extract the compound they’re interested in –the artemesinin related compound,” Dr.Covello explained at a press conference.
“Basically with our genes they’ve come close to doubling the yield [of artemisinin].”