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Events & News

SYNTHESIS laboratory exchange

A 6-day intensive exchange laboratory for artists, designers, 
synthetic biologists and engineers at UCL >>more

UCL wins gold at the iGEM competition

>>more

Enabling Systems Biology ConferenceApril 11-14, 2011 Registration open >>more

Harden Conference

Synthetic biology: design and engineering through understanding >>more

Recent Articles:

Combining living cells and inorganic materials for biosensors (Oct 2010)
Synthetic Biology: living quarters (Oct 2010)

What is Synthetic Biology?

Synthetic biology is the engineering of biology: the synthesis of complex, biologically based, or inspired, systems which display functions that do not exist in nature.

Many scientists believe that this approach will ultimately result in the rational and systematic design of systems that may help us to address the major challenges of the future.

Possible applications of synthetic biology could include the creation of systems to generate power, new medical applications, nanoscale biological computers, new approaches to cleaning up dangerous waste or sensitive biosensors for health or security applications. 



Traditional biology has sought to understand existing biological systems. We now understand enough of the 'rules' of the construction of these natural systems and the aim of Synthetic Biology is to design biological components in a standardised manner and combine these to construct novel genetic devices, metabolic pathways, optical or electronic devices. It is built on the ease with which it is now possible to synthesise genes and large DNA fragments and the standardisation of the ways these can be put together in bacteria.


The involvement of engineers, physical scientists, chemists and biologists can create designed cells, enzymes and biological modules that can be combined in a defined manner. These could be used to make complex metabolic pathways for pharmaceuticals, novel hybrid biosensors or novel routes to biofuels.

A future integration of biological devices and hybrid devices as components in the electronic industry might lead to a whole new high value industry for structured biological entities. Synthetic Biology is a fast growing area of research especially in the US and will have a major economic and social impact on the global economy in the coming decades.

Page last modified on 04 may 10 16:09