Synthetic Genomics, Inc., a company founded by the genome sequencing pioneer Dr. J. Craig Venter, is developing new scientific processes to enable industry to design and test desired genetic modifications. Using the genome as a bio-factory, a custom designed, modular “cassette” system will be developed so that the organism executes specific molecular functions. Synthetically produced organisms with reduced or reoriented metabolic needs will enable new, powerful, and more direct methods of bio-engineered industrial production.
According to Dr. Venter: “Work in creating a synthetic chromosome/genome will give us a better understanding of basic cellular processes. Genome composition, regulatory circuits, signaling pathways and numerous other aspects of organism gene and protein function will be better understood through construction of a synthetic genome. Not only will this basic research lead to better understanding of these pathways and components in the particular organisms, but also better understanding of human biology. The ability to construct synthetic genomes may lead to extraordinary advances in our ability to engineer microorganisms for many vital energy and environmental purposes.”
This is a very exciting new step towards biosingularity. Dr. Venter is a true visionary who has been relentlessly pushing the technology to decode the complex program of biological systems.
Synthetic genomics: a new era in research
In the last two decades the field of genomics has undergone a revolution. Scientific discoveries have come at a dazzling pace. These breakthroughs were made possible by advances in the underlying enabling technologies such as high-throughput DNA sequencing, high-performance computing, and bioinformatics. Many of these advances are directly attributable to the innovation of Dr. Venter and his teams. With the genomes of more than 300 organisms and millions of newly discovered genes readily available, genes now have the potential to be the design components of the future world economy.
Synthetic Genomics, Inc. seeks to lead the world in its ability to design, synthesize and assemble specifically engineered cell level bio-factories. The ability to make extensive changes to the DNA of a chromosome, assemble it, and insert it into an organism is in its infancy, and the capability to assemble chromosome length strands of DNA will be key to the success of the company. Synthetic Genomics, Inc. is developing new scientific processes to enable industry to design and test desired genetic modifications. Using the genome as a bio-factory, a custom designed, modular “cassette” system will be developed so that the organism executes specific molecular functions. Synthetically produced organisms with reduced or reoriented metabolic needs will enable new, powerful, and more direct methods of bio-engineered industrial production. After designing and producing a synthetic chromosome, the team plans to develop a proof of concept in either of two bio-energy applications—hydrogen or ethanol. We believe that the synthetic chromosome, and eventually a synthetic cell, will become an integral tool for the energy industry.
The science of synthetic genomics
The initial step for the Company will be to develop a minimal genome that can provide an operating system for biologically-based software. Work has been ongoing at Synthetic Genomics, Inc. in conjunction with the Venter Institute, to remove genes from simple organisms to identify the minimum set of genes necessary for an organism to survive in a controlled environment. Synthetic Genomics, Inc. intends to synthesize the proposed minimal genome, add the desired biological capabilities, and insert it into an environment that allows metabolic activity and replication – the creation of a synthetic cell.
Source: Synthetic Genomics, Inc.