Over the past century, the National Collection of Type cultures in the UK has amassed a living library of bacteria strains. As the longest established collections of microorganisms in the world, its vast assortment of cultures has played a vital role in pharmaceutical and medical research around the globe. Now, as the organisation nears its centenary, we look back at the history of the organisation. And returning to the present, we examine the potential of the brain-gut axis as a drug target.

Also in this issue, we investigate the pharma industry’s reliance on the icy blue blood of horseshoe crabs to understand why synthetics have failed to make a mark, take a look at the complex and controversial topic of using puberty blockers as a physical intervention for young transgender people, and review the opportunities and challenges facing pharma recruitment in the wake of Covid-19.

Plus, we talk to packaging giant Honeywell about the company’s work in the pharmaceutical space, explore the success of recent attempts to develop drugs for rare disease, and, find out if artificial intelligence can be classed as an inventor in drug development.