Synthetic biology: at the crossroads of genetic engineering and human therapeutics—a Keystone Symposia report

Jennifer Cable*, Joshua N. Leonard, Timothy K. Lu, Zhen Xie, Matthew Wook Chang, Luis Ángel Fernández, José M. Lora, Howard L. Kaufman, Francisco J. Quintana, Roger Geiger, Cammie F. Lesser, Jason P. Lynch, David L. Hava, Virginia W. Cornish, Gary K. Lee, Breanna DiAndreth, Michael Fero, Rajkamal Srivastava, Tim De Coster, Kole T. RoybalOwen J.L. Rackham, Samira Kiani, Iowis Zhu, Rogelio A. Hernandez-Lopez, Tingxi Guo, William C.W. Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Synthetic biology has the potential to transform cell- and gene-based therapies for a variety of diseases. Sophisticated tools are now available for both eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells to engineer cells to selectively achieve therapeutic effects in response to one or more disease-related signals, thus sparing healthy tissue from potentially cytotoxic effects. This report summarizes the Keystone eSymposium “Synthetic Biology: At the Crossroads of Genetic Engineering and Human Therapeutics,” which took place on May 3 and 4, 2021. Given that several therapies engineered using synthetic biology have entered clinical trials, there was a clear need for a synthetic biology symposium that emphasizes the therapeutic applications of synthetic biology as opposed to the technical aspects. Presenters discussed the use of synthetic biology to improve T cell, gene, and viral therapies, to engineer probiotics, and to expand upon existing modalities and functions of cell-based therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)98-117
Number of pages20
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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