Subscribe for email alerts

Don’t miss a single Science & Enterprise post. Sign up for our daily email alerts.

Please share Science & Enterprise

Consortium Developing Synthetic Biology Technology Platform

DNA fragment (Wikimedia Commons)

(Wikimedia Commons)

The Flowers Consortium, a group of five universities in the U.K., is developing a common platform technology for synthetic biology. Development of the platform — a basic set of standard technologies, from which specific applications can be designed — is being funded by a grant of some £5 million ($US 7.8 million) from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), a science funding agency in the U.K.

Synthetic biology aims to design and engineer new types of biologically based parts, devices and systems, and redesign existing natural biological systems. The study of synthetic biology is is predicted to affect a wide range of industries, including chemicals, materials, biosensors, biofuels, and health care. The consortium consists of faculty from Imperial College London, King’s College London, and the universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, and Newcastle that have research underway in synthetic biology.

The platform technology will be built on SynBIS, a Web-based information system now in beta testing and expected to be available by the end of June. SynBIS will host modeling tools, such as BioCAD, which will open up opportunities for high level software design of bioparts and devices. These tools will, in turn, make it possible for automated methods, including robotics, to assemble these parts and devices.

The grant will also be used to establish a registry of biological parts and devices using an automated data-collection pipeline. The availability of richer data is expected to lead to improved mathematical modeling, and thus more predictable and reliable design and construction of bioparts.

EPSRC already funded the Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation at Imperial College London with a £4.5 million grant. The Flowers Consortium expects to build on that group’s earlier work. The new grant is also expected to build a synthetic biology infrastructure shared with other institutions the U.K., and develop relationships with universities abroad, as Imperial College London has done with Stanford University’s bioengineering department.

Read more:

*     *     *

2 comments to Consortium Developing Synthetic Biology Technology Platform