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
Kate Adamala on Creating Synthetic Life
Sean Carroll podcast helps to define the boundary of the chemistry of life
Synthetic cells designed to imitate biological cells' intrinsic properties
Nano Magazine - 14-Jun-2022
Structural rearrangements in cells could be beneficial in treating diseasesRead more...
Synthetic amino acids: Beginning of engineering life’s superpowers
Singularity Hub - 08-Jun-2021
New bacteria: virtually resistant to all viral infectionsRead more...
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 worksRead more...
A new computational model to design mammalian genetic programs
Phys.org - 19-Feb-2021
Engineered human cells through design-based process, eliminating trial and error approachRead more...
Synthetic protocells allow researchers to examine cell movement
Nano Magazine - 06-Dec-2019
The more ways we can study and understand cell activity the betterRead more...