Synthetic Biology — Is it the key to Prevent Future Pandemics?

Synthetic biology is a discipline of science involving the redesign of organisms for valuable prospects. The organisms are engineered to have innovative skills. This new field provides nature’s potential to solve difficulties in medicine, agriculture, and manufacturing. Many people compare synthetic biology to another application of science called genome editing. Both disciplines involve upgrading the genetic code of an organism. However, in synthetic biology, researchers sew together long stretches of DNA. After which, they are inserted into the organism’s genome. Synthetic biology has numerous advantages and benefits. Few examples are the growth of low-cost anti-malarial drugs and programmable cells’ use to treat cancer. Keep on reading to know more about synthetic biology and its breakthroughs.

Synthetic biotechnology breakthroughs

The field of synthetic biology has seen tremendous advances. This growth includes sectors such as environmental bio-remediation, life sciences, and industrial development. For example, in the late 1900s, researchers developed a bacterium to digest petroleum components. Moreover, the original biotech patent came for a microorganism responsible for oil spill cleanup. In 2006, researchers from the Berkley center developed a yeast harboring bacterial and wormwood genes. This yeast was re-engineered into a chemical factory for creating an antecedent to artemisinin. It was utilized as a cost-effective anti-malarial drug. In the next few years, many artificial bacterial genomes were discovered. However, the field of synthetic biology still has a long way to go. Scientists and researchers have to perfect their methods to convert novel genomes for microbes or cells.

Petroleum-based economy to a bio-based economy

The modern industrialized culture relies on the burning of tremendous measures of energy. The majority of today’s commercial assets are derived from a petroleum-based market. In addition, petroleum is the raw material for the manufacture of many industrial products. The over-reliance on fossil fuels would make it challenging to reduce the effects of global warming. The ‘bio-based economy’ describes an expanding range of worldwide growth. It incorporates an extensive array of activities containing bio-based materials, for instance, using the biological power of enzymes or genomic cells for goods manufacturing. Biotech industries benefit tremendously in the shift to a bio-based economy. The move leads to an increase in profits, cost-cutting, reduction in pollution, and carbon footprint.

Small Molecules

Scientists and researchers are making the most out of their knowledge about synthetic biology for COVID 19 too. They produce small molecules applying synthetic biology techniques. These innovative products are used for drug development. One example is the use of this technology by AstraZeneca petrochemicals for developing therapeutics. The drugs are suitable for oral consumption or via cell membrane inoculation.

Chimeric Antigen Receptor For Cancer Treatment

Another example is the development of technology for cancer patients. For example, doctors are applying chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) technology for attacking cancer cells. The mechanization allows immune cells to recognize the cancer cells for eliminating them. Few Pharma companies currently applying this technology are Autolus, Kite Pharma, Arcellx Inc, and American Gene Technologies. Autolus treats solid tumors and hematological cancer using synthetic biology tech. Yescarta, a drug developed by Kite Pharma, is practiced for CAR T cell therapy.

Genetically Engineered Viruses To Treat SCID

Apart from bacterias, scientists have begun re-engineering viruses as well. For example, viruses are tamed for treating Severe Combined Immune Deficiency (SCID). Scientists replicate a patient’s stem cells to form new cells. These cells then replace the mutated genes responsible for causing diseases. Another example is that St. Jude Research Hospital researchers worked hard to re-engineer a virus to treat SCID in youngsters genetically.

Computational Protein Design

This method comprises devising proteins from the start (de novo design). Afterward, calculated variants of the protein structures are built. Scientists innovate uncommon enzymes utilizing amino acids. These components are not a part of the conventional macromolecular toolkit. The advancement of technology has allowed companies like Ginkgo Bioworks to use computer automation for creating new organisms. Another organization Arzeda develops new enzymes from scratch for manufacturing rare sugars.

Better Leaves with Synthetic Chloroplast

Photosynthesis is an artistic catalytic operation. It allows plants and algae to utilize the energy derived from sunlight to transform carbon dioxide into carbohydrates. The power is needed for a process called cell fixation. Humans have started using synthetic biology to hijack this natural process. They craft semi-synthetic versions of the process to form a catalytic cycle. A miniaturized machinery works on this crucial reaction of carbon dioxide fixation, including light. Tobias Erb, along with his colleagues, is working on the CTECH cycle. It fuses catalysts from nine diverse organisms to convert CO2 in the two-carbon molecule glyoxylate.

Dark reaction

Erb’s strategy is to form the metabolic system based on pure chemistry. He wants to remove each biological situation, ensuring an edge over progression. It must support the modification in photosynthesis with additional determinants. The CTECH cycle is an alternative to the dark reaction of photosynthesis. The process does not require light. It was built employing 17 diverse enzymes that could operate together

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