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Cells as ‘mini-factories’

Research in this area of science is developing at an astonishing rate globally and this is a trend mirrored at Edinburgh, leaving many companies

© THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH

The Edinburgh Genome Foundry is the UK's only fully automated facility for synthetic DNA assembly

28 | www.research-innovation.ed.ac.uk

© PAUL DODDS

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illed as the next industrial revolution, synthetic biology has stepped into the global limelight in recent years and looks to be here to stay. The University of Edinburgh is firmly positioned as a leader in this field with many successful industrial collaborations, further cemented by the opening of the pioneering Edinburgh Genome Foundry, unique in the UK. By combining the study of the cell, its DNA, its outputs and interactions with engineering principles, synthetic biology offers vast opportunities for companies driven to meet sustainability targets without compromising on productivity. Through harnessing the output of cells existing in nature today, or by synthetically creating new ones, valuable chemicals can be synthesised to offer a cleaner, greener, more efficient manufacturing platform for use in sectors such as healthcare, agriculture, bio-fuels and manufacturing.

Researchers analysing biological data at a computer

unaware that the new techniques being developed in the lab are available for deployment. From the manufacture of products, such as enzymes and chemicals, flavourings and detergents, the cellbased ‘mini-factories’ have the potential to be manufacturing platforms of the future, offering companies the potential to streamline and maximise their outputs from existing manufacturing processes.

Dr Teuta Pilizota, Chancellor’s Fellow from the University’s School of Biological Sciences, has been partnering with Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies on a project focused on optimising protein outputs from living E. coli cells. The project, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) via the Crossing Biological Membranes Network (CBMNet), explored how the production of a protein, used in treatments for

Profile for Edinburgh Research & Innovation

Infinite magazine 2016  

Edinburgh Research & Innovation’s Infinite Magazine highlights some of the exciting industry engagement, innovation and enterprise activitie...

Infinite magazine 2016  

Edinburgh Research & Innovation’s Infinite Magazine highlights some of the exciting industry engagement, innovation and enterprise activitie...

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