From Fringe Science to Mainstream Reality
by Edward Grey
Capital Markets Editor
Synthetic Biology, long a fringe science without direction, has become a powerful, increasingly disciplined science focused on developing synthetic biologic units, components, and systems. It utilises computer engineering principles and mathematical algorithms to best structure and execute synthetic biologic processes. While a specific system design is top-down, execution is bottom-up from the core DNA, transcription to RNA, translation to enzymes, then the resulting core building blocks of life; proteins.
With the advent of CRISPR-Cas9, a state-of-the-art gene editing technique that harnesses a naturally occurring defence mechanism used by bacteria, Synthetic Biologists now have what it lacked most; a scalable, precise tool to edit genes on a practical, useful level.
To date, CRISPR-Cas9 has been used to create everything from United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved mushrooms that do not brown, monkeys with targeted variants (mutations), and the first attempt at removing the HIV virus DNA from human cells. Other uses, both practical and experimental, include editing genetic disease variants (mutations) on a germline (embryonic) level.
DNA, Deoxyribonucleic acid, is a molecule that carries most of the genetic instructions used in the growth, development, functioning and reproduction of all known living organisms and many viruses.
RNA, ribonucleic acid, is an important molecule with long chains of nucleotides. A nucleotide contains a nitrogenous base, a ribose sugar, and a phosphate. Just like DNA, RNA is vital for living beings