Future Clairvoyance of Synthetic Biology

Introduction

Synthetic biology is an interdisciplinary field, best outlined as engineered solutions inspired by biology to make renewable, biodegradable, and safe materials. Synthetic biology has found applications in many areas, together with healthcare, agriculture, and biomanufacturing of textiles, and different consumer products.

Current Challenges in the Synthetic Biology Field

The biggest challenge for a life scientist is to handle the natural complexity and the challenges of making things work and dealing with living systems that are infinitely complicated- It isn't an easy joke.

Challenges in Agriculture: The challenge would be how the farmers, are willing to use the biological product. It’s not something that they are used to. So, synthetic biologists ought to discover a way to bridge that gap between something that's being created within the lab to use it to real-world issues. Handling biological materials, and to grasp the biological system itself a serious challenge and it needs time.

The challenges may well be of many-folds with regard to any new rising technology; there is perpetually a path of learning of what the technology needs to knock off for the platform to be helpful. The most important thing for every emerging technology is the regulatory pathway, especially in areas where there is human consumption is involved, include therapeutics, food, health and wellness ingredients, or even in cosmetics. 

The challenge solely matters WHAT the outcome is but not HOW it’s made. Over time, researchers developed strategies to engineer single genes, then tiny circuits of genes, and now, with applications just like the total synthesis of opioids seeing a lot of complicated synthetic circuits and pathways. A lot of trial-and-error can happen and still can predict how different genes can interact, how certain DNA sequences will have an effect on transcription/translation, etc.

Future Developments

Clearly, future developments in synthetic biology would force changes to existing regulation, or entirely new legislation, and there's a pressuring need to explore biosafety frameworks and identify the gaps in current risk assessment methodologies. There’s additionally a necessity to think creatively regarding the potential unpredictable events that would occur. Some argue that no-one can yet fully perceive the risks that synthetic biology poses to the environment, or perhaps what information is required to perform a risk assessment. In order to understand the potential ecological effects of synthetic organisms, and thus regulate them effectively, four areas of research can be proposed:

1) Understand the physiological variations between natural and synthetic organisms;

2) Think about how engineered microorganisms would possibly alter habitats, food webs, or biodiversity;

3) Verify the rate of synthetic organism’s evolution and whether or not they persist, spread or alter their behavior in natural environments;

4) Perceive gene transfer by synthetic organisms.

The European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE) recommends the assessment and regulation of synthetic biology. The group counseled that the utilization of synthetic biology is conditional on questions of safety and that risk assessment is also conditional for the finance of research. For organisms that are developed for environmental applications, ecological impact assessment studies ought to be performed and authorization procedures for synthetic biology derived materials have to take into consideration.

The vision conjointly suggests that regulation has to think about problems with safety and controls on synthetic organisms, and scientists must demonstrate environmental risks, moral and social problems before continuing with their work.

Conclusion

Synthetic biology is at the cusp of many major breakthroughs and that it's perhaps the time to re-define the meaning of “success” in synthetic biology. There are several hurdles to beat, however, the potential for synthetic biology to deliver solutions to the improving healthcare industry, limiting environmental damage, and a wide variety of additional property processes are great. Synthetic biology is giving us insights into the standards and processes that underpin all living systems; successively, we can take this insight, design, and use it to create “better biology.”

Synthetic biology could be a platform design technology that's resulting in the establishment of a technology stack, maintained and developed by several new start-up firms. The synthetic technology stack is being applied in several application sectors that differentiate synthetic biology from a lot of traditional industrial biotechnology or pharmaceutical industry. As the synthetic biology industry develops, realities can emerge with firms eager to satisfy capitalist demands to become financially sustainable and commercially productive. However, such business forces cause the event of synthetic biology firms that tally existing multi-nationals, so inadvertently making technology monopolies. 

The attribute of synthetic biology as a riotous and socially sanctioning technology could thus be lost with existing commercialization models leading to ‘business as usual’ although compromises will have to make sure that the industry thrives and therefore the technology is exploited to its full potential for societal profit. However, a new generation of synthetic biology entrepreneurs, academics, start-ups, and investors see significant benefits in pre-competitive open technology platforms. By making an open technology environment, it's envisaged that a lot of more new start-ups may be shaped in new applications, areas, and market sectors. There are components of the synthetic biology start-up community that are committed to sharing open technology developments that can be accustomed to ‘change the world’ for good at least for now.

As a takeaway note, synthetic biologists are operating laborious to form meaningful and they are very serious on considering the field of synthetic biology and the impact it is making on the world. Stay tuned for more success. 

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Reference

Boehm, C. R., and Bock, R. (2019). Recent advances and current challenges in synthetic biology of the plastid genetic system and metabolism. Plant Physiol. 179, 794–802. doi: 10.1104/pp.18.00767

Boeke, J. D., Church, G., Hessel, A., Kelley, N. J., Arkin, A., Cai, Y., et al. (2016). Genome engineering: the genome project-write. Science 8, 126–127. doi: 10.1126/science.aaf6850 

Decoene, T., De Paepe, B., Maertens, J., Coussement, P., Peters, G., de Maeseneire, S., et al. (2018). Standardization in synthetic biology: an engineering discipline coming of age. Crit. Rev. Biotechnol. 38, 647–656. doi: 10.1080/07388551.2017.1380600

Kahl, L., Molloy, J., Patron, N., Matthewman, C., Haseloff, J., Grewal, D. et al (2018) Opening options for material transfer. Nature Biotech. 36, 923–927 https://doi.org/10.1038/nbt.4263. 

https://www.synthego.com/blog/synthetic-biology-applications 


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