Conferences are the annual hub where scientists update each other regarding the latest achievements of a particular field. The Synbiobeta conference held in San Francisco each year, is one such event where like minded entrepreneurs and biologists congregate to discuss the fast-growing synthetic biology field. However, as goes with many interdisciplinary scientific fields, the term ‘synthetic biology’ may sound elusive and vague to non specialists. So, rather than convincing you that this field is bound to be the basis of our future products, I will simply summarize the product updates from different companies at this conference and let you decide for yourself.
Imagine a regular day a few years from now. It’s been an hour since lunch, but you still can’t get over that sumptuous burger. As you slice your apple, your mind wanders. The chef swore that it was purely ‘vegetarian’ and that no animal had died for its preparation. And yet it felt so real in texture and taste, complete with the bloody layer inside the patty. But then again, your friend’s microbe-produced leather jacket was also exactly the same as real leather. “How is this possible?” you wonder out loud, as you loosen your spider-silk tie. That’s when you realize that while you were lost in thoughts, your sliced apple didn’t even turn brown.
The above description may sound like a scene from a sci-fiction movie, but it’s in fact a rather plausible picture of what our future might soon look like. The desire to mimic biology by creating renewable, biodegradable, safe, and high-functioning materials, combined with the availability of latest tools, has driven companies to innovate like never before. The field of biotechnology and synthetic biology has progressing rapidly over the last few years and is predicted to get even larger, providing cost-effective solutions in every industry.
Healthcare, for instance, is already being redefined by the development of natural implants, engineered probiotics, and on-going studies to enable organ transplants from animals into humans. Perhaps even more surprising are the microbe-spewed consumer products from other industries, such as agriculture, textile, and ink.
But the focus of any company cannot merely be innovation; customers are bound to be overwhelmed by this wave of refined biotechnology. In anticipation of their skepticism, companies are also preemptively working towards educating their potential consumers about the science behind their products.
The essence of SynBioBeta in a nutshell can be summarized as engineering realistic dreams using synthetic biology.