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Synthetic biology in the real world: Case studies

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Synpromics – the power of synthetic promoters

By Caroline Channing

Synpromics was founded by Dr Michael Roberts in 2010; it develops synthetic promoters which can specifically regulate gene expression. Promoters are a key element in expressing synthetic genes and need to be modified depending on the organism and product; current promoters are limited and inadequate for current needs.

In a recent Innovate UK funded grant, Synpromics worked with the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Synthetic and Systems Biology (SynthSys) to create a panel of gene promoters that could increase productivity of biopharmaceutical production in mammalian CHO cells. This was a success with several candidates driving protein expression some 10-fold higher than the industry standard CMV promoter.

Synpromics is now discussing license terms with several multi-nationals within the Bioprocessing sector in order to evaluate the efficiency of selected synthetic promoters in an industrial setting and it is expected that these promoters will be effectively used to improve production of a vast range of biologics. Synpromics has recently raised over £2.1 million of new funding which it will use for business expansion and further development of its technology.

UK Strategic Plan for Synthetic Biology 2016

Click on the image above to download the UK Synthetic Biology Strategic Plan 2016

New synthetic biology technologies are starting to offer exciting opportunities across a range of industries including manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, biofuels and health.

Research Council funding in collaboration with a wide variety of national and international partners across academia and industry, is supporting the long-term growth of UK synthetic biology, development of a highly skilled workforce and an infrastructure to underpin and enable cutting edge research in industry and academia, as well as providing support for synthetic biology start-up companies.

The pervasive potential of synthetic biology is brought to life through a series of case studies ranging from a biosensor toolkit with the ability to treat chronic conditions such as diabetes through to using enzymes from yeast mould to unlock cleaner routes to producing biofuel.

The wide ranging applications of synthetic biology will play an important role in growing the UK's bioeconomy, creating new jobs and ensuring the UK is a world leader in this area.

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