Rise in the global population has increased the need for sustainable development. Scientists and researchers are working on developing synthetic biology and its applications which promises to address global humanitarian needs. The goal behind synthetic biology is to achieve health and well-being, advancements in the healthcare sector, and improved access to responsibly produced goods and services.
Synthetic biology is a new interdisciplinary field of science that involves redesigning organisms for other useful purposes by engineering them to have new abilities. It uses already-existing natural substances to solve problems related to agriculture, medicine, and manufacturing.
What is synthetic biology?
In synthetic biology, long stretches of DNA are stitched together and inserted into an organism's genome. These synthesized pieces of DNA could be found in genes of other organisms or they could be completely novel. It aims at the designing and fabrication of biological components that do not already exist in nature.
Developments in the speed and cost of DNA synthesis is beneficial in designing and synthesizing modified bacterial chromosomes which can be further used in the production of bio products or pharmaceutical ingredients. With the help of synthetic biology organisms can produce new substances which will work as medicine or fuel. It can also add new abilities such as sensing something in the environment.
Difference between synthetic and system biology
Both system and synthetic biology play an important role in the development of microbial platforms for energy, materials, and environmental applications. There is a distinct difference between these two fields of biology. System biology provides the study of complex natural biological systems as integrated wholes. It basically studies complex interactions and collective behavior of a cell or an organism.
Whereas synthetic biology studies developing artificial biological systems with the help of the same tools used in system biology. These tools include modeling, simulation, and comparison of experiments. The focus in synthetic biology is on taking parts of biological systems, characterizing them, and simplifying them as components of engineered biological systems.
Use cases of synthetic biology
Synthetic biology is widely used in different industries. Some of its use cases are mentioned below.
Making green chemicals from agricultural waste
Surfactants are one of the most useful and widely sold chemicals. Its manufacturing process emits atmospheric carbon dioxide which causes pollution. To overcome this, scientists have developed microorganisms that convert agricultural waste such as soybean hulls into surfactants that can be used in personal care products and other formulations.
Production of renewable bio-acrylic
Acrylic is a petrochemical used in different industries and consumer products. Some biotechnology companies are developing renewable bio-acrylic using synthetic biology systems, which will match the perto- acrylic performance but with 75% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Developing naturally replicated rubber for tire
Synthetic rubber used in tire manufacturing is completely derived from petrochemical sources. Biotech companies are working with tire manufacturers to develop reliable, more efficient fermentation-based chemicals for the production of synthetic rubber using synthetic biology techniques.
Increasing demand for vaccine developments from emerging and developed countries to prevent infectious diseases has led to vaccine manufacturers and the healthcare sector adopting new technologies. Synthetic biology technologies help to design, synthesize, test and deploy antigens and variants with rapid results, high expression and capacity.
Future Scope of Synthetic Biology
Researchers are working on providing better technology than the existing DNA synthesis methods to understand how the genome works and how to utilize it in different industries. Some of the main goals of synthetic biology include the design and construction of a simple genome for the natural bacterium.
Synthetic biologists are working to develop standardized biological or genomic parts which can be used to build novel biological systems. Synthetic biology is used to expand the set of natural protein functions for new processes. It also aims to provide natural product synthesis which will be helpful in the complex multistep production of natural products.
Such applications and adaptation of products manufactured by synthetic biology is increasing their demand in different fields all over the world. Biotechnology companies are focusing on experimenting and developing new better synthetic biology products.