Nearly half of our medicines are obtained from nature and many are derived from plants. We’re fortunate to have plants that synthesize medicines for us, but relying on plants — which are subject to nature’s unpredictability and schedule — poses several challenges for researchers who are working to meet the global demand for medicine.
“Most of the people on this planet, still to this day, have insufficient access to medicines,” says biochemist Christina Smolke, PhD. In her recently released talk from TEDxStanford 2016, Smolke discusses these challenges and how her lab is working to amplify the drug-producing power of plants by using yeast to develop painkillers quickly and cheaply. She explains: