Looking back: What synthetic biology has achieved during 2010 to 2020

"Synthetic biology is among the most hyped research topics this century, and in 2010 it entered its teenage years. But rather than these being a problematic time, we’ve seen synthetic biology blossom and deliver many new technologies and landmark achievements." ---- Fankang Meng & Tom Ellis, Nature Communications, 2020

In a very recent article published in Nature Communications, the authors Fankang Men and Tom Ellis looked back how synthetic biology has done during its second decade-from 2010 to 2020.

Fig. 1: Landmark research achievements of synthetic biology from 2010 to 2020. Fankang Meng & Tom Ellis, Nature Communications 2020. 

The decade got off to a great start in 2010 with the complete synthesis of a working bacterial genome by a team at the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI). Another landmark achievement came out In 2016, when Nielsen et al. published Cello, a remarkable end-to-end computer aided design system for logic circuit construction in E. coli, which realises so much of the promised engineering of biology and does so through standardisation, characterisation and automated design. The cost for gene synthesis dropped significantly due to new methods for printing thousands of oligonucleotides in parallel on chips to and the utilize of next generation sequencing (NGS) technology for validating assembled DNA. These two technologies suddenly make it cost effective to design, build and measure hundreds of thousands of genetic constructs in parallel. High-power computation also opened up new frontiers in what can be modelled and predicted in the last 10 years, for example the rational design of proteins by David Baker’s group. Synthetic genomics also moved into eukaryotes with the international Sc2.0 consortium constructing highly-modified, yet fully-functional synthetic versions of Baker’s yeast chromosomes.

The many research landmarks and new directions for synthetic biology are indeed very impressive. Read the original article to know more!


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