BioVoice News June 2016 Issue 2 Volume 1 - Page 28

expert corner SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY AND THE RESPONSIBLE FUTURES The ever changing dynamics in the genetic engineering have popped up the term ‘responsible innovation’ which means equal attention to societal needs as well as ethics, write India’s top experts S ynthetic Biology describes a rational design approach to engineer biological systems using a standard inventory of parts and rules of composition. The ability to move from discovery to design, has unleashed a new wave of creativity among scientists. People are suddenly excited about building everything: including DNA, RNA, protein organelles, cells and tissues, towards useful applications. Though the term genetic engineering was liberally used for many decades, 28 BioVoiceNews | June 2016 quite frankly, the engineering in genetics has just begun. Furthermore, this interface of engineering and genetics is rapidly broadening as well as deepening. This is due to the fact that creation of a genetically modified organism has been based on probabilities than precision i.e., combining redesigned vector with the host cell at a certain concentration hinged on a hope that the vector will temporarily express in the cell and deliver the much needed cargo. Though this approach has been highly successful, it is a demonstration of probability, not engineering. In June 2004, synthetic biology made its formal appearance through its first conference at MIT, laying a new engineering foundation in biology even though the introductory work and terminology were coined much earlier. This event triggered a massive influx of ideas towards computer aided design of organisms. In India, synthetic biology research is at a nascent stage and there is a need to bring various stakeholders