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Msg  20 of 24  at  1/23/2022 10:49:30 AM  by


Synthetic Biology

Synthetic Biology 
Synthetic Biology is the process of programming microbes like bacteria or yeast as to turn them into small factories to produce a product. This creates the potential to create products that are cheap and sustainable. 
The example we could use is a bacteria to synthesize a chemical for the use in a perfume by programming bacterial DNA to do so. The bacteria can proliferate quickly and develop large quantities of this chemical which is then extracted and purified.
The first key into understanding turning a microbe into a factory is the chemistry. There is a huge amount of understanding that is required to understand all the reactions necessary to synthesize a chemical.
Some of these reactions can take up to 25 enzymes to produce. An enzyme is a protein that facilitates a chemical reaction. The compound the enzyme acts on is called the substrate.
The enzyme acts on and changes the substrate and then releases the product. The product can then become the substrate for the next enzyme. This process can go on and on until the input product goes through many steps to become a completely new chemical.
As you can see, the first key step in any synthetic biology program is to understand what you want to create and the chemistry necessary to synthesize that product.
The next step will be to design the DNA for the enzymes required in the process of synthesizing your chemical. They will build a circular DNA plasmid that encodes all the enzymes.
The plasmid is then inserted into the bacteria where it will be used by the bacteria or yeast as instructions to create whatever product you program it to produce. This can turn bacteria or yeast into small biofactories.
These living organisms can then be placed in vats where they can be fermented, much like the process of brewing beer. They just need the resources necessary to produce the products. They will grow and proliferate and produce whatever they are designed to make.
Then the companies making these synthetic biology ingredient can extract and purify the products for use in manufacturing products. 
One such example is an enzyme from tulips can be used to produce a plastic that is clear, light weight and durable for screens. It would normally take hundreds of acres of tulips to produce a product this way. This could be done with synthetic biology in a small factory.
Uses of Synthetic Biology 
All the cell therapies we talk about every day are reprogramming immune cells to turn them into therapies against cancer are synthetic biology. 
All the iPSC programs we follow engineer living cells for all kinds of therapies. These are the current uses being used as therapies. Another one is engineering probiotics to have therapeutic functions. 
Synthetic Biology is used in farming. They can change the DNA in crops to give them new attributes like drought resistance. It can also be used to create microbes that produce nutrients right in the soil.
One of the most exciting new uses for synthetic biology is using it to turn yeast or bacteria into tiny factories to produce reagents for manufacturing. This can create a whole new industry of sustainable manufacturing.
Another interesting use for synthetic biology is using bacteria as sensors. They can program bacteria with receptors to detect chemicals then they will glow with fluorescence when they do. This can be used to detect contaminants in drinking water.
The Tools of Synthetic Biology 
The main tools for synthetic biology are the ability to read the DNA, the ability to edit the DNA and the ability to write new DNA.
The tools for reading DNA are the sequencing companies like $ILMN or $PACB. These companies allow us to sequence the genome of a single cell so we know that the current program looks like.
The ability to edit the cell's DNA gives us the ability to edit the cell program. This gives us the ability to make changes to the program so we can tweak it without creating a whole new genome from scratch.
This includes the CRISPR companies like $NTLA, $BEAM and $CRSP. They have the tools necessary to make insertions, deletion and edits.
The last key part is the ability to create DNA through DNA synthesis or printing. The key company here is $TWST with their platform of sequencing, DNA synthesis and DNA based storage.
One of the most key components to drive the scale and lower costs of doing synthetic biology is automation. The ability to use machines to automate the extensive process to reduce costs and increase scale.
The major company working in this space is $BLI with their beacon cell analysis and sorting machines. They offer the ability to automate many of the workflows necessary to engineer, culture, analyze and select the right cells.

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