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Topics: Biology, Gene, Low-carbon economy Pages: 3 (684 words) Published: April 4, 2014

A new research and training facility at Imperial that will construct DNA at industrial levels has been announced today by the Universities Minister.

Designing, constructing and testing DNA is a crucial element of synthetic biology, an area of science which combines biology and engineering to create new biologically based devices that will help solve a range of different global challenges. These devices are made from harmless cells, such as yeast cells. Manmade yeast genes could then be used to create vaccines or even turn agricultural waste into biofuel.

Imperial has received £2million to establish a ‘DNA Synthesis and Construction Foundry’. Building interchangeable bits of DNA, the building blocks of synthetic biology, is time consuming and expensive. It is hoped that the new Foundry will establish a common framework to build DNA by using an automated robotic system. With a common framework for creating DNA in place, synthetic biologists will be able to scale up the volumes of DNA produced to more easily test their new function.

The new DNA Synthesis and Construction Foundry will streamline and automate the 'writing' of DNA at an industrial scale so that tens of thousands of designed DNA constructions can be built and tested. We ultimately want this to become as straightforward as it might be to design a prototype new part for a car – Professor Paul Freemont

Department of Life Sciences
David Willetts, Universities and Science Minister, announced the funding for the Foundry at the opening address of the SynBioBeta Conference, an annual synthetic biology conference that links research and industry, which is being held at Imperial College London this week.

Synthetic biology technology is being used to address a range of global challenges such as producing low-carbon fuel and producing new pharmaceuticals. It has been identified by the UK Government as one of the “Eight Great Technologies” in which Great Britain is or can be a world leader....
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