Paul McFedries is profiling the field of synthetic biology in the latest IEEE Spectrum. This newly emerging science that has great potential, among other things, for regenerative medicine.
Biobricks require host cells to ride in, often called the chassis or the hardware. The host role is often filled by the famous E. coli bacterium. But E. coli, yeast, and other natural cells are complex and can interfere with whatever function the inserted genetic device is trying to perform. So scientists sometimes use as a chassis a minimal cell, which has the minimum number of components to allow the cell to support the synthetic system. Other bioneers prefer the cell-free approach, where the synthetic biological system rests in a bath of biochemical components in which the device can do its thing.
Today synthetic biology is the domain of big-time scientists, but biobrick parts will usher in a new era of DIY biology, where biohackers and other members of the open-source biology movement mess with DNA and build new biological systems biobrick by biobrick.
IEEE Spectrum: Hacking DNA …