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Synthetic biology in the real world: Case studies

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Toolkit for a responsive biosensor

By Caroline Channing

Scientists at Imperial College London, in collaboration with AstraZeneca, are currently working on generating a toolkit for biosensor networks to be used for small peptide signalling. If successful, the intention is that the toolkit could allow cells to respond to a physiological cue with the secretion of a therapeutic peptide. They are currently at the design stage and are creating a set of well-characterised standardised parts along with a streamlined assembly methodology.

As a proof of concept, they are working with a small handful of peptide hormones that could be used to design novel gene circuits for the treatment of obesity/diabetes.

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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