Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Synthetic Biology -- a new mythology?

Still swimming in all of the continuing media stories about the human genome and new genetic findings connecting disease and behaviors to specific genes? Then you may have not read much about the new field of Synthetic Biology that has emerged. OK, I'm sure you saw the biological photographic images of the Flying Spaghetti Monster in the special issue of Nature in November of last year (featuring the results if the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition). This field is so new that it's proponents and practitioners cannot agree on what to call it exactly, I've found a number of monikers:

•Synthetic Biology
•Intentional Biology
•Constructive Biology
•Natural Engineering
•Synthetic Genomes
•BioHacking
•Biological Engineering

But Synthetic Biology.... what exactly is it? A short answer is "life from scratch". Synthetic Biology.org puts it this way:

Synthetic Biology is A) the design and construction of new biological parts, devices, and systems, andB) the re-design of existing, natural biological systems for useful purposes.

Declaration of the Second International Meeting on Synthetic Biology, which was held last month in Berkeley, CA can be found here http://syntheticbiology.org/SB2Declaration.html

Pertinent links

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v438/n7067/index.html (subscription required)
http://bbf.openwetware.org/ The BioBricks Foundation
http://www.intentionalbiology.org/ Intentional Biology Page
http://www.openwetware.org/wiki/Main_Page Open Wet Ware Wiki
http://parts.mit.edu/registry/index.php/Main_Page Registry of Standard Biological Parts
http://syntheticbiology.org/ Synthetic Biology.org

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