What is Synthetic biology?
Native biological circuits (i.e. connected networks of genes) utilize data within the cell to coordinate cellular behaviors in space and time. Synthetic biology aims to harness the power of biological systems to dynamically access information in the cell, enabling synthetic biomedical tasks such as tumor surveillance, pathogen identification, or metabolite manipulation.
The Future is Mammalian
Prokaryotic systems and single-cell eukaryotic organisms have dominated the field of synthetic biology and revealed important paradigms in cellular biology, including the roles of feedback, noise, and cooperativity. However, translation of synthetic biology to mammalian systems has been slow. With the advent of improved genetic tools for mammalian cells (e.g. CRISPR technologies and AAVs), synthetic circuits will reshape how we study and treat diseases.
Elucidating the principles of mammalian circuit design offers the opportunity to engineer cellular behaviors and to identify and target diseased states. Further, understanding how cell types differentially process classes of synthetic circuits will improve our ability to predict the response of native transcriptional networks and design systems that are optimally wired for their function and context.