Archive by category | Synthetic Biology

Carbo loading

This morning, I noted the huge amount of combinations that could possibly occur for a 100 nucleotide RNA sequence. Peter Seeberger of ETH Hönggerberg, where Synthetic Biology 3.0 is being held, kicked the complexity up a notch by talking about carbohydrates. The trouble with carbohydrates is synthesis. Proteins and nucleotides are generally quite easy to synthesize through either chemical or biologic means. Carbohydrates present a formidable challenge however.  Read more

Winding down in Zürich

It may be hard to top some of this morning’s sessions, but we’ll see what the after-lunch crew has to add. I’ll be posting soon about some amazing carbohydrate work by Peter Seeberger of ETH Honggerberg, where the conference is being held, but I just wanted to direct to some of the other blogs covering Synthetic Biology 3.0.  Read more

Power, Secrets, and Synthetic Biology

“When is secrecy justifiable?” asks Laurie Zoloth, a bioethicist from Northwestern University in a hurried presentation on the ethical challenges presented by synthetic biology at the third annual meeting on the topic in Zürich, Switzerland. She characterized the main arguments that have been made for and against synthetic bio referencing everyone from Kant to Sissela Bok, and Disney to Lucas.  Read more

Rabble Rousing 3.0 (Surprise, Berkeley is the Source of the Upheaval)

In all the session on intellectual property at Zurich’s Synthetic Biology 3.0 meeting didn’t quite have the inspirational flair of its science based predecessors, but one talk in particular stood out. Stephen Maurer, a lawyer and adjunct faculty member at Berkeley presented as a case study for the murky intellectual property issues raised by synthetic biology a pending $500 million proposal by the UC school to partner with BP (the B stands for Beyond, now, not British as was formerly the case). For background see here, here and here.  Read more

Transplant is Neat, But for Assembly, Nature Still Has Us Beat

Questions about the infamous Venter patent didn’t come up at Hamilton Smith’s talk this morning. Smith, a Nobel Laureate and well known as J.C. Venter’s right hand man talked about an ongoing project at the Venter Institute to define a minimal set of genes needed for life. The minimalist Mycoplasma genitalium has been the focus of study for its already sparse genome (it’s about 580 kb long and contains just under 500 genes).  Read more

Synthetic Biology … What is That Again?

From a quiet Sunday morning, the synthetic biology meeting in Zürich Switzerland quickly exploded to roughly 300 in attendance. I had a chance to grab Tom Knight of MIT who demurred only slightly when asked about his involvement with synthetic biology. You might call him a founding father of the field. “I gave it a name at least,” he told me as we waited on a long lunch line amongst the other synth biologists grumbling that the cafeteria would only accept Swiss francs.  Read more