Innovation in Medicine

Solving a crucial bottleneck in drug discovery

Specialist researcher holding microscope slide analyzing blood sample working at coronavirus vaccine development during virus examination in microbiology hospital laboratory. Biochemistry experiment

Many existing antibiotics were derived from soil bacteria, which naturally produce these toxins to ward off competitors. But efforts to draw more therapeutics from the ground have hit a snag. Most species cannot be grown in the lab, and even soil bacteria that can be cultured tend to keep their most promising toxins within the black box of a biosynthetic gene cluster—genes that function as a unit to collectively code for production of a molecule.

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