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The Synthetic Biology and Drug Discovery group focuses on re-engineering bacteria and yeast for use as microscopic drug factories, and in the manipulation of mammalian gene expression.

Large, high quality libraries of new drugs are absolutely essential resources to find new medicines. However, their use is restricted to a few pharmaceutical giants. We are engineering cells to make a wide variety of drug-like molecules, providing a unique drug discovery resource accessible to almost any scientific laboratory. As each cell can make a different molecule of interest, billions of different potential drugs could be produced in a single tube. This technology provides an opportunity to put the future of drug discovery in the hands of the wider scientific community and provides new tools for Australian industries. Furthermore, these synthetic biology studies will provide insights into the fundamental biological processes that are essential for all living cells.


Molecular machines stop cancer’s clock

Head of the laboratory for Synthetic Biology and Drug Discovery, Associate Professor Oliver Rackham, says cancer cells grow uncontrollably whereas normal cells limit their growth. “A normal cell grows for just the right amount of time that is required for us to develop and maintain our bodies. “They control their growth with…

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Stem cell reprogramming mystery clarified by new findings

In a study, published in Cell Stem Cell, researchers from the University of Western Australia, the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, and Monash University describe key drivers of the process by which cells from mature tissues of the body, such as skin, can be deliberately converted into stem cells that…

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