– Synthetic biology discovery to facilitate scale-up
Scientists from Imperial College London (ICL) have reported a new method of engineering new ‘parts’ for microscopic biological factories from 2 days to only 6 hours, bringing them closer to potential mass-production techniques. The approach could benefit applications ranging from better drug delivery treatments for patients, enhancements in minerals mining and advances in biofuels production.
Professor Paul Freemont, Co- Director of the Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation at Imperial College London and principle co-investigator of the study*, said:
“Before the industrial revolution most items were made by hand, which meant that they were slower to manufacture, more expensive to produce and limited in number. We are at a similar juncture in synthetic biology, having to test and build each part from scratch, which is a long and slow process. We demonstrate in our study a new method that could help to rapidly scale up the production and testing of biological parts.”
James Chappell, co-author of the study from the Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation at Imperial College London, added:
“One of the major goals in synthetic biology is to find a way to industrialise our processes so that we can mass produce these biological factories much in the same way that industries such as car manufacturers mass produce vehicles in a factory line. This could unlock the potential of this field of science and enable us to develop much more sophisticated devices that could be used to improve many facets of society. Excitingly, our research takes us one step closer to this reality, providing a rapid way of developing new parts.”
The ICL team say their work could lead to vast new libraries of off-the-shelf components that could be used to build more sophisticated biological factories. As well as expanding this process using different sample types or devices, they also are aiming to develop a method using robots to speed up and automate the process.
* In Nucleic Acids Research