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Artemisinin is a front line anti-malarial drug which was derived from the sweet wormwood plant. ‘Growing on trees’ however, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and the supply could be unpredictable. Professor Jay Keasling, using synthetic biology techniques, had grown his own artemisinin in the lab and with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Sanofi, the industrial-scale “brewing” of artemisinin now promises to be the first successful application of this amazing technology in pharma. Pharma IQ spoke to Professor Keasling about this project and the potential future applications of synthetic biology in pharma.