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Paper Chase

Integrating biological redesign: where synthetic biology came from and where it needs to go.

Cell. Mar 27, 2014;157(1):151-61.
Way JC, Collins JJ, Keasling JD, Silver PA.

Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University, Boston, MA 02115, USA; Department of Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA; Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC), University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA. Electronic address:


Synthetic biology seeks to extend approaches from engineering and computation to redesign of biology, with goals such as generating new chemicals, improving human health, and addressing environmental issues. Early on, several guiding principles of synthetic biology were articulated, including design according to specification, separation of design from fabrication, use of standardized biological parts and organisms, and abstraction. We review the utility of these principles over the past decade in light of the field's accomplishments in building complex systems based on microbial transcription and metabolism and describe the progress in mammalian cell engineering.