Engineering Health: How Biotechnology Changed Medicine
Chapter 9: Synthetic Biology: A Game Changer?
Published:25 Oct 2017
Synthetic biology is an emerging scientific discipline that seeks to apply the principles and practices of engineering to the purposeful manipulation of biology. By exploiting cutting-edge experimental methods, synthetic biologists are able to treat living matter as a programmable material, an approach that has the potential to deliver new drugs, diagnostics and impactful medical treatments. In this chapter I outline the basic premise of synthetic biology, providing a historical context for the field. I summarise how this approach is revolutionising healthcare, by affording access to life-saving medical treatments in high quantity and at low cost. Finally, I dare to dream as to where this burgeoning field may take us, highlighting how what was once believed to be the stuff of science fiction is rapidly becoming the stuff of synthetic biology fact.