11 August 2009

Life engineers

'Intelligent design' may be bollocks cubed; but human design of life may not be:
“We have hardly scratched the surface of what biotechnology can do,” says Drew Endy, a bioengineer at Stanford University in California. “To ask about the applications of synthetic biology today is like asking Von Neumann [the computing pioneer] in 1952 what the applications of computers would be.”

A feature of synthetic biology is the core role played by engineers such as Professor Endy. They are introducing a discipline and rigour that is missing from most of bioscience. Paul Freemont, co-director of the Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation at Imperial College London, says the aim over the next 20 years is to give synthetic biology the precision of electronics. “Our understanding of how living cells work isn’t as good as our understanding of electronic devices,” he says. “We want to get to the stage where we’ve got all the parts we need to build any biological machine that we want.”
-- from A new twist on life (FT).

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