How To Make A New, Easier and Safer Way To Synthesize Medicines?

Synthetic biology is the genomics of manufacturing medicines. Pharmaceutical companies have always worked with bio-organisms to make their drugs, but they’ve typically used natural processes that are often difficult and expensive to scale up for industrial production. Now, scientists are using synthetic biology in a new way: to develop genetic circuits that can produce customized medicines at will. Synthetic biologists replace the biological parts with ones made of digital code. That makes it possible to design circuits that generate useful molecules in predictable quantities and sequences. These tools could improve manufacturing processes and reduce costs, making medicines accessible to more people at lower prices.

What is synthetic biology?

The term synthetic biology is a catch-all to describe a new approach to biotechnology that replaces biological parts with software and computer hardware. This digital approach can make it possible to design and manufacture new products tailored to specific needs and preferences.

As an early example of synthetic biology, scientists designed a bacterium that produced a chemical compound used in sunscreen. But this is just the beginning. As researchers continue to use digital tools to craft new organisms, they’re developing organisms that make biofuels, pharmaceuticals, bioplastics and much more.

How synthetic biology helps to develop medicines

Synthetic biologists are designing organisms that produce proteins and other molecules that have medical uses. Because synthetic organisms are made of digital code, they can be designed to produce molecules that have unusual properties, such as targeting specific cells or being effective against disease-causing organisms.

The most common applications of synthetic biology to date are in biopharmaceuticals. These are medicines produced by genetically engineered microbes.

How we’re using digital software to make medicines in a safer, more efficient way

To understand how digital organisms can create medicines, let’s consider the industry’s current manufacturing process.

First, pharmaceutical companies design a molecule, which is an exact chemical copy of the medicine they want to make. They then design a set of steps to make this molecule. These steps are more or less standard. For example, to make a drug, scientists first start with organic molecules: fats, proteins, sugars and other substances that can be turned into useful products. Next, they work with microbes to turn the organic molecules into the specific molecules you want to make. Microbes have been doing this for millennia, and scientists have found ways to help them make specific molecules.

Third, the microbes are grown and harvested in large, complex agricultural systems. This process is costly, risky and time-consuming.

How digital software can speed up production times

If you assume that the software that creates the microbes to make a medicine is just as important as the microbes themselves, then you could try to build these organisms in a computer rather than on farms or in bioreactors.

In this scenario, you would first use digital software to design the molecules that the microbes would make. Then, you would create a digital model of the process and feed it into software that runs the process. This would happen at the molecular level: design the software to read a molecule as input, turn it into a molecule the microbes could use as output and create a copy of the molecule that you could use as an output.

Benefits of using digital software for manufacturing medicines

First, you wouldn’t need to grow the microbes that produce the medicines. That lowers the cost of medicine production by an estimated 50%.

Second, you could design the software to create medicines in predictable quantities and sequences. That means that microbes could make medicines that you could distribute to people in pill or liquid form.

Third, you could design the software to have the microbes produce medicines in a safer way. That could be useful if you’re designing medicines that need to be stored at a certain temperature.

Final Words: What’s next for synthetic biology and medicine?

As synthetic biology becomes more popular, regulators and investors are starting to pay attention. For example, in October 2018, a synthetic biology fund raised more than $300 million, the largest crowdfunding in the industry to date.

Industry analysts say that synthetic biology could play a key role in a number of emerging industries, including renewable energy, bioplastics, food production and health care.

What is critical to keeping up with the rapid pace of innovation in synthetic biology is being able to continuously design new biological circuits and design new genetic algorithms. Companies in the synthetic biology space are designing new circuits and algorithms to be able to scale to production.
These tools could improve manufacturing processes and reduce costs, making medicines accessible to more people at lower prices

For example, synthetic biology could help to lower the cost of biopharmaceuticals. The Food and Drug Administration estimates that the current cost of producing a one-milligram tablet of the antibiotic doxycycline is $275 per tablet.

Another potential achievement from the use of synthetic biology is the development of biologics that mimic the human body’s natural defence mechanisms and can fight off viruses and other pathogens. So far, researchers have only developed artificial defences that are similar to human enzymes, so the same pathogens that infect us could be used to harm synthetic biology systems.

How to make medicines that target individual diseases

One example of how synthetic biology could improve the development of biopharmaceuticals is to develop medicines that target diseases that affect a limited subset of the population.

For example, synthetic biology could be used to design bacteria that produce a medicine that can target men only. This would make it possible to treat some men with this type of cancer, but not others.

How to make medicines that aren’t toxic to the body

Another potential application of synthetic biology would be to create medicines that aren’t toxic to the human body.

For example, synthetic biology could be used to create bacteria that produce drugs that aren’t harmful to the environment. This could be useful for biorefineries that produce biofuels, where you don’t want to release chemicals into the air, water or land.

How synthetic biology could create medicines that are tailored to individual preferences

Finally, synthetic biology could be used to design microbes that produce medicines that are tailored to individual preferences.

For example, synthetic biology could be used to produce a medicine that tastes like a drink you like or a specific food. This would allow people with limited financial resources to access medicines that they might not otherwise be able to afford.

How To Make A New, Easier and Safer Way To Synthesize Medicines?

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