DIY synthetic biology

Just a short note about a cloning kit developed by Qiagen and Invitrogen. Will this be a first step in signalling the trend of the industry toward relatively freely available bio kits for DIY synthetic biology? I certainly hope so. Disposable lab kits packaged for small-scale labs and private hobbyists might prove to be a lucrative market in the near future once more universities get around to introducing synthetic biology curriculum to their students.

Of course, a number of such kits had been available for smaller scale purchase before, but I find this one significant in streamlining of the process, inclusion of ‘directions’, and appearance in mass-media outlet like the wired magazine… Some of the problems plaguing the field of synthetic biology at this point is the problem of general appeal and accessibility (other than the usual technical issues), and this might be beginning of an industrial trend in fixing it through the ‘hand of the market.’

Synthetic biology, being a biotechnology of information, will benefit greatly and show rapid growth from industrial level support. I can’t even begin to talk about the benefits of biological economy, and many in the field of economics and biology seem to agree on that issue.

There are some who are voicing concerns about streamlining of technology involved in the general biotechnological process pampering the scientific community, but I find such arguments rather shortsighted. The technologies available to us at the moment are not perfect. If we can’t get minor technical details out of the way of the real pursuit of science, the field of science as a whole will remain on the fringe of the human civilization. The pressing need here is to broaden the field and scope of the science itself so that the average layman might apply him or herself along with the traditional scientist population. Such a change will be able to trigger a whole spectrum of economic and social changes in creation of jobs and specialties, with more even distribution of knowledge which will further the advances of humanity as a whole.

No matter how much I’d like to deny it, advance of science is intimately linked with fostering of proper economical and sociocultural environment for such a change.

I will post more on the matter as I go along.

One thought on “DIY synthetic biology

  1. It’s true, automation and streamlining of these “standard” techniques needs to be done before synthetic biology and true biotechnology can come of age. iGEMers sometimes get to use a robot to do a lot of the steps required, and it makes complete sense. Anyone who voices concerns is missing the point … I’d suggest they go and extract their own agar for their plates and synthesize their own antibiotics from scratch … wouldn’t want to get pampered and lazy now would we ? I think the funny thing about this is how Wired has suddenly “discovered” the DNA cloning kits that we’ve been using for .. umm … I can’t remember how many years now. Not news, and probably not legal to use at home for hobbyists in many countries either.

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