Sunday, January 16, 2011

Synthetic Biology

Synthetic biology means designing and manufacturing biological components that do not exist in the natural world. It also refers to re-designing and fabrication of existing biological systems. The term “synthetic biology” was first used on genetically engineered bacteria that were created with recombinant DNA technology which was synonymous with bioengineering. Later the term “synthetic biology” was used as a mean to redesign life which is an extension of biomimetic chemistry, where organic synthesis is used to generate artificial molecules that mimic natural molecules such as enzymes.

So far, synthetic biology has produced diagnostic tools for diseases such as HIV and hepatitis viruses as well as devices from biomolecular parts with interesting functions. Synthetic biologists are trying to assemble unnatural components to support Darwinian evolution. Recently, the engineering community is seeking to extract components from the biological systems to test and confirm them as building units to be reassembled in a way that can mimic the living nature. In the engineering aspect of synthetic biology, the suitable parts are the ones that can contribute independently to the whole system so that the behavior of an assembly can be predicted.