Headline, September 22 2021/ HONOURS : ''' '' SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY SYNTHESIS '' '''



FOOD - AGRICULTURE - PHARMACEUTICALS : EXPERTISE on the way for enzymes and complete cells. Fast turn around projects like helping Moderna optimize enzyme production to accelerate manufacture of Covid-19 vaccine.

''The vision of applying engineering to make biology faster, cheaper and more reliable is starting and starring to become a reality.''

Two white coated lab technicians, seated at work stations in a corner, are vastly outnumbered by the machines. Robotic arms calibrate liquids in microdrops. Small trays, with 96 tiny wells each, shuttle around the lab on magnetic traps. Centrifuges whir. Gene sequencers hum.

The highly mechanized lab - operated by Ginkgo Bioworks, a fast-growing start-up in Boston - is an engine room of synthetic biology, an emerging field that applies the tools of engineering and computing to make entirely new organisms or genetically turbocharged existing ones.

Proponents of synthetic biology say the field could reprogram biology to increase food production, fight disease, generate energy and purify water. The realization of that potential lies decades in the future, if at all.

But it is no longer the stuff of pure science fiction, thanks to advances in recent years in biology, computing, automation and artificial intelligence.

Money is pouring into the field. Research universities, government agencies and major chemical and pharmaceutical corporations like Bayer and Merck are pursuing projects in the area. Yet so are smaller companies like Ginkgo.

Young synthetic biology companies raised nearly $8 billion last year from venture capitalists and initial public offerings worldwide, more than double the level in 2019, according to SynBioBeta, an industry newsletter. This year, total funding could surpass $30 billion, SynBioBeta predicts.

Many companies specialize in one part of the field; they include gene sequencers like Illumina and Pacific Biosciences and DNA synthesizers like Twist Bioscience and Codex DNA. Others, such as Zymergen and Gingko, are more one-stop shops.

''There is still a long way to go, but the vision of applying engineering to make biology faster, cheaper and more reliable is starting to become a reality - and a big business,'' said John Cumbers, a molecular biologist who is the founder of SynBioBeta.

Ginkgo, which planned to go public, 13 years after its founding, shows the progress and challenges of the developing industry.

Ginkgo has raised more than $900 million in venture funding from investors including Bill Gates, General Atlantic, T. Rowe Price and Viking Global Investors. But it started as five people with a shared belief that biology could be made more like computing with reusable code and standard tools instead of the bespoke experiments of traditional biology.

''The ultimate goal for Ginkgo is to make it easy to program a cell as it is to program a computer,'' said one of the founders, Jason Kelly, who is chief executive.

But unlike the electronic bits of computing, the code of DNA in cells is physical. The biological debugging, compiling and testing tools required lab space and equipment. At the start, they picked up gear at fire-sale prices, as biotech startups were folding in the wake of the national financial crisis.

Four of the founders were freshly minted Ph.Ds from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology - three in biological engineering, one in computer science. The initial funding came from the fifth founder, Tom Knight, who put up $150,000.

Mr. Knight is a renowned computer engineer who became a founding pioneer of synthetic biology. At M.I.T, he designed hardware and software for time-sharing, operating system, artificial intelligence and networking on the predecessor to the Internet.

But in his 40s, Mr. Knight decided the next open frontier for engineering and innovation was in cells, more so than in silicon. So he spent years studying biology.

In 1998, with backing from the Pentagon's research arm, Mr. Knight started a lab at M.I,T. in what he called synthetic biology.

It took years after its founding for Ginkgo to become a business. Before private investors came in, the start-up relied on $10 million from federal science programs that back promising research.

''Ginkgo wouldn't exist today without translational research capital from the government,'' Mr. Kelly said.

The Honor and Serving of the Latest Global Operational Research on Future Sciences, Emerging Fields, and Mankind, continues. The World Students Society thanks author Steve Lohr.

With respectful dedication to the Researchers, Scientists, Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all prepare and register for Great Global Elections on The World Students Society :  wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011 :

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