This course focuses on how the complexity of biological systems can be combined with traditional engineering approaches to result in new design principles for synthetic biology.
The value of a tool that unlocks two-component systems is underscored by the discovery of two strains of multidrug-resistant bacterium that use an unknown two-component system to evade colistin, an antibiotic of last resort.
As with biomedical applications, industrial applications center on chemicals, but chemicals produced by life forms that often have been tweaked or substantially altered. Thus, in a sense, synthetic biology also involves the creation of new life.
Researchers have created the largest synthetic genome ever made, with a smaller set of amino-acid-encoding codons than usual.
Controlling gene expression through gene switches based on a model borrowed from the digital world has long been one of the primary objectives of synthetic biology.
Buying samples of synthetic DNA is surprisingly easy. The trade is overseen by the International Gene Synthesis Consortium, an industry-led group that works with government agencies to screen orders and buyers. But such oversight can’t prevent someone from purchasing hazardous DNA samples on the black market.
A newly expanded genetic alphabet that includes four synthetic nucleotides highlights the need for strict boundaries on their use.
Advances in the field of biotechnology and synthetic biology are becoming increasingly accessible to actors wishing to do harm, while scientists and policymakers have become increasingly aware that the current regulatory framework may not be adequate.
Sophisticated algorithms could help DNA-synthesis companies avoid making dangerous organisms on demand.
Computer-aided systems are helping researchers to create genetic circuits to order.