Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Creating Life From Scratch

Startup: Designer Life
By Corie Lok

Last year, some 250 engineers, computer scientists, and biologists gathered at MIT for the first conference in a new field called synthetic biology. Their common goal: designing and building from scratch artificial biological systems such as cells or microorganisms that can do anything from producing drugs to cleaning up pollution.

Just a few months after the conference, some of the researchers founded a synthetic-biology startup called Codon Devices to provide those tools. With $13 million in venture capital funding, Codon is developing high-speed, low-cost DNA synthesis technology that could make synthetic biology a reality.

Since synthetic biologists engineer genomes from scratch, instead of modifying naturally occurring ones, they should be able to create proteins and cells with novel and complex capabilities. Synthetic biologists say they want to design and build genomes in the same way that electrical engineers make integrated circuits.

Within the next two years, Codon's technology should reduce the time and cost of synthesizing DNA to about one-hundredth to one-thousandth of their current rates.

Startup: Designer Life


At 8/11/2005 08:44:00 AM, Anonymous Cristobal said...

I wonder if they could ever simplify the DNA design technology to a point at which a more or less normal person could design cells and what-not. Could they write a software program that non-PhD bio chemists could use? If you designed something cool then you could send your design in to be bioartifactured by these guys. A few steps down the line, people could design their own pets- they could select from a menu of heads and limbs etc and when they get everything personalized just right they email their design to the lab. Six weeks later you receive your pit bull with a tiger's head and wings. Cool.


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