Synthetic biology is a nascent technical discipline that seeks to enable the design and construction of novel biological systems to meet pressing societal needs. However, engineering biology still requires much trial and error because we lack effective approaches for connecting basic parts into higher-order networks that behave as predicted. Developing strategies for improving the performance and sophistication of our designs is informed by two overarching perspectives: bottom-up and top-down considerations. Using this framework, we describe a conceptual model for developing novel biological systems that function and interact with existing biological components in a predictable fashion. We discuss this model in the context of three topical areas: biochemical transformations, cellular devices and therapeutics, and approaches that expand the chemistry of life. Ten years after the construction of synthetic biology's first devices, the drive to look beyond what does exist to what can exist is ushering in an era of biology by design.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Medicine
- Molecular Biology
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis