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Putting synthetic biology to work

Tom Shrader, Intrexon VP of StrategyIntrexon has embraced synthetic biology in a big way and is becoming a leader in the engineering and industrialization of biology.

Tom Shrader, VP Strategy, Intrexon  at the company's booth at BIO in Boston

It has developed a technology platform for controlling mosquitoes and agricultural pests without spraying insecticides, and is the only organization of its kind approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture. The company has also been venturing into health care applications and recently announced the isolation of a novel gene from the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum ) which encodes the enzyme, thebaine synthase. The research means it is now possible to create synthetic opioids which could ultimately lead to the development of novel painkillers. Much of that work was done in Alberta at the University of Calgary and I will have more on that aspect later, but first I talked with Tom Shrader, VP Strategy at Intrexon, about the announcement and about some of the other work they are doing on pest control and in agri-food development.

Putting synthetic biology to work

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