A Glimpse Into the Field of Synthetic Biology

I just started reading Regenesis. It’s a book that explores the future of the field of synthetic biology, written by geneticist George Church and science writer Ed Regis. Super exciting and scary at the same time. This excerpt sums up the potential of the field quite nicely:

…What these examples hinted at, however, was something far more important than mere political correctness, namely, that biological organisms could be viewed as a kind of high technology, as nature’s own versatile engines of creation. Just as computers were universal machines in the sense that given the appropriate programming they could simulate the activities of any other machine, so biological organisms approached the condition of being universal constructors in the sense that with appropriate changes to their genetic programming, they could be made to produce practically any imaginable artifact. A living organism, after all, was a ready-made, prefabricated production system that, like a computer, was governed by a program, its genome. Synthetic biology and synthetic genomics, the large-scale remaking of a genome, were attempts to capitalize on the facts that biological organisms are programmable manufacturing systems, and that by making small changes in their genetic software a bioengineer can effect big changes in their output.

The lines between living and non-living, and organic and inorganic are becoming harder and harder to distinguish.  And this is really just the tip of the iceberg.  So, if you’ve got a tolerance for some basic level bio-speak then I highly recommend checking out the book.  I’m sure I’ll have more to share once I’m all the way through it.



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