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Synthetic Biology

SynBio aims to create new biological components that don’t exist in nature – either from scratch or redesigning natural parts. Whether to start afresh or start with something that already works splits the two approaches to synthetic biology:

  • bottom up – using manufactured biomolecular components and synthesising them into living structures
  • top down – giving new, or novel, functions to already living cells using genetic engineering

Although evolution has created some amazing machines, at every level from proteins to mammals, it is unguided and therefore may have missed opportunities whilst it was just trying to survive in the harsh environment.

Examples of applications within healthcare and life extension include:

  • cell transformation – improving the function of existing cells with human designed gene circuits and organelles
  • designer proteins – instead of improving the processes natural proteins take part in, it’s possible to improve the design of the proteins themselves
  • drug delivery – building logic into bacteria allowing better targeting of pharmaceuticals, therefore reducing some of their side-effects (a synthetic call LOCKR has already been designed to provide this sort of logic)
  • biosensors – e.g. using modified bacteria to detect and report on infections


Click on resource name for more details.

The Emergence of Life: From Chemical Origins to Synthetic Biology


The book gives an exhaustive treatment of the biophysical properties of vesicles written by Pier Luigi Luisi

Life at the Speed of Light: From the Double Helix to the Dawn of Digital Life


Book about synthetic genomics written by J. Craig Venter

Hacking Darwin: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity


Explores how the genetic revolution will transform us, our species and our world

Cobra Biologics

Company that is providing a biologics and pharmaceuticals services


Nuclera makes biology accessible through desktop enzymatic protein and gene synthesis

Human cell coding company

Kate Adamala on Creating Synthetic Life

Sean Carroll podcast helps to define the boundary of the chemistry of life


Company designing Synthetic Biotic medicines.

More Synthetic Biology resources

Recent News

Synthetic cells designed to imitate biological cells' intrinsic properties

Nano Magazine - 14-Jun-2022

Structural rearrangements in cells could be beneficial in treating diseases


Synthetic amino acids: Beginning of engineering life’s superpowers

Singularity Hub - 08-Jun-2021

New bacteria: virtually resistant to all viral infections


Experts made synthetic cells that multiply like natural bacteria

New Scientist - 29-Mar-2021

7 additional genes created normally dividing artificial cells - interesting tool for future research works


A new computational model to design mammalian genetic programs - 19-Feb-2021

Engineered human cells through design-based process, eliminating trial and error approach


Synthetic protocells allow researchers to examine cell movement

Nano Magazine - 06-Dec-2019

The more ways we can study and understand cell activity the better

More Synthetic Biology News