The Future Of Synthetic Biology and The Companies Using These Technologies

The market of synthetic biology is estimated to worth 11 billion by 2028. The increasing demands by biotechnological and pharmaceutical companies have greatly contributed to the growth of its market.

We’ll look at what synthetic biology is all about and the latest trends of this technology.

RELATED: Current Trends in Synthetic Biology

What is Synthetic Biology?

Colored Genetic Code DNA Molecule Structure

Synthetic biology is defined as the design and fabrication of biological systems and components that do not exist in the real world thru editing alteration of the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). At the same time, it is referred to as the redesign and fabrication of existing biological systems and DNA.

With this, we can re-engineer DNA sequences of anything and re-assemble them to new genomes.

It means we can eventually create synthetic things such as a flower changing color, sterile mosquitos, create fuel or perfume by programming microbes, or plants that glow, among others.

However, the downside of this is that it could harm us if used or engineered the wrong way. Synthetic biology can potentially be a threat if we create a harmful virus that can wipe out humanity.

The opportunities for the growth of this new technology are endless, such as manufacturing good chemicals from agricultural waste, discovering petroleum substitutes, and replicating rubber tires.

As this type of technology is starting to grow, companies that focus on synthetic biology are starting to grow. Some companies sell synthetic DNAs, and some do the building themselves.

Companies that sell synthetic DNAs:

Companies that build DNAs for multiple purposes such as healthcare, biofuels, and bioproducts:

RELATED: De-Bottlenecking Molecular Biology

What Are The Upcoming Trends In Synthetic Biology?

Stem Cell

1. Production of Small Molecules

Scientists can now produce small molecules with the use of synthetic biology. The new products are commonly used for drug development.

AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP and has been using this technology for therapeutics. They have produced drugs that can be taken orally or through the cell membranes.

Amgen also uses small molecules for drugs. These drugs can only treat some diseases because they can penetrate cell walls to target specific cells.

Numerous other laboratories are now resulting in this kind of discovery. However, there are some downsides to it. Even though they can design and manufacture new kinds of molecules, the process can be tedious and have a long trial and error process.

It is because it is difficult to engineer new microbes that nature didn’t intend. It may be a long process overall, but it can be rewarding what the final product can do. 

2. Chimeric Antigen Receptor For Cancer Treatment

It is slowly taking shape, but scientists are now using synthetic biology to create a new technology that could treat cancer patients. 

In addition to transformational improvements in healthcare, patients can now enjoy chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) technology which attacks cancer cells. This technology engineers the T-cells (immune cells) of a patient to recognizes the cancer cells and eliminates them.

Some of the companies that use T-cell therapy include Kite Pharma, Autolus, American Gene Technologies, and Arcellx Inc..

Kite Pharma has its Yescarta, which is used for CAR T cell therapy. It is used as therapy for some non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Autolus focuses on solid tumors and hematological cancer treatments and is now developing treatments for CAR T cell therapy.

American Gene Technologies is developing a cure for HIV-positive patients by using their cells from T cells to disable diseases and build immunity.

Lastly, Arcelix is in its early stages of development for CAR T-Cell therapy.

3. Genetically Engineered Viruses To Treat SCID

In relation to the creation of chimeric antigen receptors, scientists are also engineering viruses to treat inherited diseases like Severe Combined Immune Deficiency (SCID) or epidermolysis bullosa.

This technology is possible by using a patient’s stem cell to replicate and create new cells to replace the mutated genes that cause diseases.

St. Jude Research Hospital managed to develop a genetically engineered virus to treat SCID on young children. They created a lentivector, a virus delivered to the genes to fix certain medical conditions without activating any genes that may cause cancer.

4. Computational Protein Design

Computational protein design builds proteins from scratch (de novo design) and makes calculated variants of protein structures and variants (protein design).

Researchers build new enzymes that have never been seen and not common to nature using amino acids and co-factors that are not part of the standard macromolecular toolkit.

One company that uses this technology is Ginkgo Bioworks, which uses computer automation to create new organisms. 

Arzeda is another company developing new enzymes from scratch to develop the production of rare sugars and natural sweeteners.

5. Cellular Agriculture Technology

Cellular agriculture is replicating the way food is produced by animals without the need to have animals. Researchers are looking at how the by-products of animals we consume are made and done through tissue engineering and biotechnology.

Some examples of these are creating milk just like how a cow would produce them or creating eggs just like how chickens would produce them. This includes the creation of lab foods such as meat and fish.

One of the companies that use this technology is New Harvest. As mentioned above, this company is responsible for creating milk and eggs from cells instead of getting them from animals.

Another one is Meatable, which uses cellular agriculture for creating cell-based meats.

The future of synthetic biology is vast because of all the opportunities this technology can make. 

From the development of pharmaceutical products to answer humanity’s problems to producing agricultural products for our daily consumption, the possibilities are endless. They could lead to a very successful future for humankind.

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