What is that?
Synthetic biology is pretty new in the game right now. It is so new that there isn’t even a single definition for it. It is based on engineering approaches which can be used to study biological systems, manipulate them and produce new biological functions that do not exist in nature.
Humans have been manipulating the genome for hundreds of years, by breeding (selectively) plants & animals with desired characters.
Years passed and humanity started to take genetic information from an organism & transfer it to another, this process we call genetic engineering. It enabled scientists to develop different varieties of plants and animals.
Here we can say that synthetic biology is advanced genetic engineering which manipulates engineering & biology to design & develop new organisms that are not found in nature.
How does it work?
Synthetic biology is essentially consist of two processes:
- organisms are either designed from scratch,
- or non-essential part of DNA is removed from an organism.
1. Organisms are designed from Scratch
Biobricks are pre-made sequences of DNA with specific functions and are freely available for researchers to order. They can be combined to build more complex DNA sequences which can be incorporated into living cells to construct a new genome.
This process uses engineering approaches such as the standardization of parts, to create new biological systems.
2. The non-essential part of DNA is removed from an organism
Here, specific DNA sequences are removed from an organism & new ones are synthesized in the lab and then incorporated back into the organism.
Using this approach, American biotechnologist J.CRAIG VENTER have successfully created the first self- replicating synthetic cell.
The use of either approach will allow scientists to gain a
greatunderstanding and knowledge of life.
Ethical aspects of Synthetic biology
Synthetic biology could be used for good or bad both just like technology and engineering. It has improved our lifestyle but humanity also invented atomic bomb and tanks
We all know that everything has pros and cons and we already know the pros part that we can artificially design new organisms or novel functions in an organism which will take mankind to next level where science fiction will come to reality.
But the sad part is that it can be used by terrorists to make bio-weapons and these bio-weapons can vanish our entire human race from this beautiful blue dot, I mean earth.
So let’s see what the universe has decided for us and how we grow with this new dawn of science.