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MIT, Pfizer In Synthetic Biology Research Pact

By Kristin Brooks | February 20, 2014

Aims to advance synthetic biology research technologies

MIT’s Synthetic Biology Center (MIT SBC) has entered into a collaboration with Pfizer to translate leading discoveries in synthetic biology aimed at advancing drug discovery and development technologies. The three-year research collaboration covers multiple therapeutic areas at Pfizer and involves several core investigators at MIT SBC, an interdisciplinary research and educational initiative of the Department of Biological Engineering.
The collaboration will re-evaluate standard biotechnology operations, identify areas for improvement, and develop methodologies that potentially may make the biopharmaceutical value chain more cost-efficient. The emerging field of synthetic biology leverages current biotech efforts and integrates them with systems biology theory to establish a new paradigm of engineering biopharmaceuticals by applying computer science and design engineering concepts to biological systems, creating molecular and computational tools that enable regulation of cellular and genetic processes. The synthetic biology technologies for development in under the collaboration include methods for cellular genome engineering to support next-generation protein expression systems.
“We look forward to expanding our relationship with Pfizer to advance research in synthetic biology,” said Doug Lauffenburger, the Ford Professor of Bioengineering and Chemical Engineering and head of MIT’s Department of Biological Engineering. “This collaboration supports our goal to develop sophisticated synthetic biological systems from standardized, well-characterized modular parts for useful application in multiple fields, including biopharmaceutical molecular and bioprocess design.”
“Biologics based in recombinant DNA technology have transformed the treatment of many diseases over the last few decades,” said Jose Carlos Gutierrez-Ramos, group senior vice president and head of Pfizer’s BioTherapeutics Research and Development. “We are reaching a key inflection point where advances in synthetic biology have the potential to rapidly accelerate and improve biotherapeutics drug discovery and development, from early-stage candidate discovery through product supply, which could bring better, more effective therapies to patients more rapidly.”