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Synthetic Biology for Chemical Production

By Alexandre Zanghellini, Arzeda |

Rapidly expanding computational power and decreasing costs for DNA sequencing and synthesis have made synthetic biology tools more accessible to chemical makers Not long ago, the late former Apple CEO Steve Jobs said, “I think the biggest innovations of the 21st century will be at the intersection of biology and technology. A new era is beginning.” Recent developments in the field of synthetic biology already seem to be validating his prophecy. The U.K.’s Royal Society (London; www.royalsociety.org) describes synthetic biology as the design and construction of novel artificial biological pathways, organisms or devices, or the redesign of existing natural biological systems. With his statement, Jobs was probably reflecting, in his later days, on the impact of this convergence between technology and biology specifically on human health. But other domains of human activity are poised to be equally impacted by synthetic biology (Figure 1). This includes our ability to sustainably produce the molecules that make up our chemicals, materials and drugs. DNA is commonly viewed as the “code,” or software, of life. Now, an equally important view is the emerging ability of computer software to enable us to engineer living systems with…
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