1. What does these terms mean? Give clear examples of the similarities and differences between these two genetic practices?
Synthetic biology refers to the development and design of new biological units such as cells, genetic circuits and enzymes. Synthetic biology also entails the redesign of existing biological entities. On the other hand, genetic engineering entails inserting a gene from one organism into another. The primary difference between the two stems from the approach; wherein genetic engineering projects tend to make use of an ad hoc approach whereas synthetic biology projects tend to use proper engineering principles such as reusability, modularization and standardization. In addition, synthetic biology aims to develop whole new genomes; this might involve the use of naturally existing genomes, however, for a different purpose such as redesigning them.
2. Give two specific potential applications for genetic engineering that are not listed in this article?
With the potential advances in life sciences, synthetic biology stands as one of the transformative innovations that has the potential of building living systems using off-the-shelf chemical ingredients, in a manner that is similar to how electrical engineers develop computer chips. Some of the potential applications of synthetic biology include the creation and development of bioengineered microorganisms and eventually other life forms that can be utilized to make pharmaceuticals, mend defective genes, destruct cancer cells, and detect toxic chemicals among others; genome construction and design; applied protein design; natural product synthesis; and creation and development of standardized biological parts and circuits.
3. What are your thoughts about Endy’s ending statement “Biology is the most incredible manufacturing platform on the planet”. Do you agree? do you disagree? Is this technology a good thing or is it a bad thing. Briefly discuss the pros and cons of synthetic biology.
I agree with this statement; this stems from the fact that biology has the potential of manufacturing life and unfolding the mysteries underpinning life. Whether synthetic or natural, life in itself is a mystery, and biology has attempted, by all means possible, to address its mysteries. Given the potential of synthetic biology, I believe that synthetic biology is a good thing. The pros of synthetic biology include: it facilitates genome construction and design, enables applied protein design, natural product synthesis, and creation and development of standardized biological circuits and parts. The cons of synthetic biology include: risks related to accidental release; risks associated with conducting tests on an open environment; and the risks associated with deliberate misuse.