The researchers of Synthetic Biology are trying to find the power of nature to solve the problems in medicine, manufacturing, and agriculture. It is a technology that is capable of giving new solutions to healthcare, agriculture, manufacturing, and environmental challenges. Also, this is a field that increases the need to develop detection, identification, and monitoring systems. It also delivers solutions to chemical and biological threats.
Due to its tremendous applications, there is a high demand and importance for Synthetic Biology. Synthetic Biology and Engineering finds applications in the following fields:
Synthetic biology and engineering will lead to transformational improvements in healthcare. For example, patients are benefiting from chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) technology, which processes the immune cells (T-cells) of the patient to recognize and cure cancer cells. Also, nowadays genetically engineered viruses are used to correct defective genes in patients with diseases such as Severe Combined Immune Deficiency (SCID).
This also aims to engineer a patient's cells to multiply, differentiate into different cell types and even self-assemble into new tissues, or even organs, to replace those damaged through disease or injury. Above that, scientists are in research to build entire human chromosomes. Although concerns have been raised about the ethics of creating “synthetic humans”.
One of the other exciting offerings of synthetic biology in medicine is the production of theragnostic cell lines. This can sense a disease state and produce an appropriate therapeutic response.
It is a field involved in developing computer-based experimental tools to control the cellular processes at the gene level in real-time. The control is achieved by interfacing living cells with a digital computer that switches on or off the embedded “genetic switch” using light or chemicals. This system can trigger the release of insulin when blood glucose levels rise as detected by a wireless diagnostic tool.
· Material science
Synthetic biology creates responsive and multifunctional materials. This is done by the integration of biochemical components from living systems with inorganic components. This will lead to new materials that can sense the environment and change their properties. This is useful for improving protective clothing or building materials.
Programmable proteins are build using computational techniques that are self-assembled into predicted shapes. This finds opportunities not only for materials science but also for medicine and chemistry.
· Gene-drive technology
Gene drive technology is used to propagate a particular set of genes throughout a population. The benefits of using this include the eradication of disease-carrying insect populations and the elimination of invading pest species.
Synthetic biology is also used to clean up the environment. An organism can be built to consume toxic chemicals in water or soil that would not otherwise decompose.
In the future, Synthetic biology will even help to feed the world. Researchers are working to build a system that will allow plants to fix nitrogen. If this happens then farmers will no longer require fertilizer for their crops.