Synthetic Biology

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From Humanitarian-FOSS Project Development Site


What is synthetic biology and why is it useful?

Drew Endy’s presentation on synthetic biologypresents a very interesting idea. To have the ability to enter DNA code into a computer that then interprets the code into matter is a very powerful tool. Synthetic Biology is very important because it can allow one to engineer life on a very basic level. This could yield amazing results. For example, Drew Endy discusses open source beer. He identified that the key ingredient to the beer is the yeast that ferments. This implies that instead of engineering the actual beer itself, we can engineer the building blocks of the beer, the ingredient that makes the beer unique, the yeast. This concept transfers into any other area as well. If we can apply synthetic biology to the most basic biological systems, then we should be able to yield a desirable result.

Where has it been used before?

Open source licensing can most certainly help in this field. Endy used the group of students in Texas as an example of this. In order to create their final product, bacteria that would respond to light and take an image, the students where able to get the necessary parts for the their project. Because the students did not have to worry about licensing, they were able to complete their project.

Will open source licensing help?

Endy admitted that what happened with the groups of students is rare. Like anything in life, if one spends a lot of time and effort working toward a goal, they will want to have credit for all the hard work that they have done in the end. This especially applies to science and biology because there is a lot of time spent researching in the field and then analyzing in the lab. What is particularly interesting about science is that it has the highest growth potential. That is, if open source licensing were to come through in synthetic biology, the results would be mind-boggling. However, it is going to take some time before the scientists of the world can come together and accept this idea.

Additional links

Synthetic Biology
Bio Bricks Foundation

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