Drug discovery and development via synthetic biology

Ryan E. Cobb, Yunzi Luo, Todd Freestone, Huimin Zhao

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


With its expanding toolkit of sophisticated computational and experimental techniques, synthetic biology is currently poised to be a significant contributor to the discovery and development of the next generation of drugs derived from natural products. In this chapter, a number of tools are highlighted which enable the identification, analysis, assembly, and optimization of diverse classes of secondary metabolite gene clusters. Next, the applications of these tools are surveyed, including not only the discovery of new compounds from diverse environments, but also the biosynthesis of new 'unnatural' natural products and the activation of otherwise silent gene clusters. Finally, the applications of synthetic biology tools toward the production of valuable drug compounds are illustrated in detail through the examples of erythromycin A, artemisinin, and taxol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSynthetic Biology
Subtitle of host publicationTools and Applications
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print)9780123944306
StatePublished - May 21 2013


  • Artemisinin
  • Erythromycin
  • In silico pathway analysis
  • Metagenomics
  • NRPS
  • Pathway assembly
  • PKS
  • Silent cluster activation
  • Taxol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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