Synthetic biology holds great promise for the design, construction and development of artificial (man-made) biological (sub)systems, offering viable new routes to genetically modified organisms, smart drugs as well as model systems to examine artificial genomes and proteomes.
The informed manipulation of such biological (sub)systems could have an enormous positive impact on our societies, with its effects being felt across a range of activities such as the provision of healthcare, and environmental protection and remediation.
Focusing on this specific technical challenge, the group hopes to contribute to bridging the gap between synthetic biology from the top down – knocking out or modifying functions of existing cells – and bottom-up synthetic biology, from first principles. Both approaches will have a role to play in the future of synthetic biology. The interaction between top-down systems (modified cells) and bottom-up systems (chells, protocells) provides the ideal background against which a new research community can be built and sustained.
Programmable artificial cells, either purely chemical or through a synthetic biology approach, will –we hope – pave the way for what we call “extreme everyware”. This technology offers exciting new challenges and opportunities for research at the leading edge of the Operations in a Digital World priority group.
Scale of research
SynBioNT: A Synthetic Biology Network for Modelling and Programming Cell-Chell Interactions is one of only seven recent BBSRC/EPSRC networks in synthetic biology. SynBioNT groups together more than 120 UK and international leaders in this field. The Logistics of Small Things is a crossdisciplinary feasibility account.
As Principal Investigator, Prof Krasnogor attracted approximatedly £2.5M from the BBSRC, EPSRC, the European Union and ESF. In their areas, Prof M. Cámara, Prof P. Williams and Dr S. Heeb (School of Molecular Medical Sciences) have £5.5M in current funding mainly from the MRC, BBSRC, The Wellcome Trust, the European Union, the Royal Society and the British Council. Prof C. Alexander (School of Pharmacy) participates in grants in excess of £8M from EPSRC, BBSRC, EU and industry.