Tom Knight has “started a collection of hundreds of interchangeable genetic components they call BioBricks, which students and others are already popping into cells like Lego pieces.” What are these BioBricks exactly? Imagine you’re a scientist building a robot, but instead of programming code, scientists are actually writing DNA. They call it “synthetic biology” and it’s expected to do some cool things.
To start, Synthetic Genomics plans to create “ethanol, hydrogen and other exotic fuels for vehicles, to fill a market that has been estimated to be worth $1 trillion.” This new technology has also been found to make artemisinin, used to treat malaria, much more effectively than growing it from plants.
Of course with new technology comes new controversy. Considering the capabilities of synthetic biology, new viruses could be developed should the instructions be passed into the wrong hands. Knowing this, Jim Thomas, ETC Group, is trying to stop the production until regulations are set.