Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem in our world. Devin Leake, Vice President of Research and Development at Gen9, weighs in on how synthetic biology--and specifically long-length synthetic DNA constructs--can combat the issue of antibiotic resistance.
"There is a growing need for more antibiotics. We see every day that there are cases or incidents where there are bacterial strains that are being created that are absolutely resistant to any known antibiotic that exists. The beauty of synthetic biology and really DNA synthesis and what we are working with researchers on is using DNA synthesis to create what they call polyketide gene clusters. What are these? The gene clusters are these large pieces of DNA that exist naturally. They give rise to the antibiotics that we use today. Our inability to create long pieces of DNA has hindered our ability to create new antibiotics. One of the things that Gen9 does well is long DNA.
We are working with researchers now to actually create new gene clusters that enable new antibiotics to be generated. I think this is the more rewarding area that we're working in. I myself am allergic to penicillin, and so I have a very particular interest in the development of this.
No one remembers what it was like to not have antibiotics. No one remembers the diseases that we think of as so common and what the impact was and the mortality was without antibiotics. To even come remotely close to entering into that type of age again should seem scary to people. I think that any chance for us to create a new path to antibiotics and to really eradicate or make sure that we can eliminate some of the bacterial diseases that could be propagated is critical. It's critical for humanity.
People that work at Gen9 really believe in changing the world. They believe in changing the world for many different reasons. It could be feeding the hungry. It could be combating pollution. It could be creating new antibiotics. There's many different reasons why we're here and why we believe in the mission of Gen9. I think that what's most critical for us is to really see the DNA that we produce being used in a way that really does help the world. That's a driver for us. It's exciting. It's an exciting area. It's an exciting company to be a part of and to see the growth and the energy in this space. But really what drives us is the overriding message that we want to save the world."
- Dr. Devin Leake, Ph.D.