Potential Applications of Synthetic Biology

Synthetic biology has a wide range of potential applications across a variety of industries and could provide solutions to many of the major global challenges, such as food security, energy shortage, diseases, etc. 


Market Opportunities

Synthetic biology has been chosen as a specific area of investment by the Technology Strategy Board (now known as Innovate UK) Emerging Technologies and Industries (ETI) Programme, which aims to turn the emerging technologies of today into the growth sectors of tomorrow for UK business. 

Several market sectors where synthetic biology could have an impact have been identified, including: 

  • Bioenergy/biofuels

  • Speciality chemicals

  • Sensors and diagnostics

  • Medicine and healthcare

The impact of Synthetic Biology is not limited to these four sectors, and other areas such as the Agri-Food sector could also benefit from this technology.  

Case study

The role synthetic biology could play in future biorefining applications.

Case study: Artemesinin


A semi-synthetic version of the antimalarial drug artemisinin, initially developed in Jay Keasling's laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) using genetically engineered bacteria, has the potential to a low cost and reliable source of this life saving drug.

The pharmaceutical company Sanofi  launched large-scale production of partially synthetic artemisinin in April 2013.

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