The opportunities for the development of new tools in health care, drug discovery, the environment, agriculture and food production are increasingly limited by the availability of novel chemical compounds. Innovative approaches and solutions are needed.
Whereas "biologics" describes products extracted from biological sources, there is a far greater potential in the direct use of micro-organisms – engineered viruses, bacteria, populations of microbes that work together in symbiosis – as a means of production, treatment and research. The use of microbial resources to produce desired effects within living organisms or in natural or man-made ecosystems bears powerful and underexploited tools.
Microbes could move a petroleum-based economy towards sustainable and environmentally-friendly industry. They could also change the way we handle drug delivery and help to develop new and efficacious therapies for health challenges. The exploration of microbial biodiversity to find "bioactives" can be integrated into microbiology, chemistry and biochemistry disciplines to create coordinated pipelines for discovery and commercial development.