Xiaolian Gao, a University of Houston biology and biochemistry professor and adjunct professor in chemistry and biomedical engineering, says she's developing technology that will lower the cost of gene synthesis by two orders of magnitude.
This developing technology by Gao and her associates has the potential to significantly reduce the economic barrier to make complete functioning organisms that can produce energy, neutralize toxins and make drugs and artificial genes. These organisms may eventually be used in alternative energy sources, natural product synthesis and discovery of novel protein therapeutic molecules, as well as in gene therapy procedures to treat genetic disorders, such as Parkinson's and diabetes, that could yield profound benefits for human health and quality of life.
"Synthetic genes are like a box of Lego building blocks," Gao said. "Their organization is very complex, even in simple organisms. By making programmed synthesis of genes economical, we can provide more efficient tools to aid the efforts of researchers to understand the molecular mechanisms that regulate biological systems. There are many potential biochemical and biomedical applications."
Using current methods, programmed synthesis of a typical gene cluster costs thousands of dollars. The system developed by Gao and her partners employs digital chemistry technology similar to that used in making computer chips and thereby reduces cost and time factors drastically. Her group estimates that the new technology will be about one hundred times more cost- and time-efficient than current technologies.
The harnessing of electronic technologies to solve problems in biological science and biotechnology will lower costs and accelerate the rate of advance by orders of magnitude. Both the reading of DNA (sequencing) and the writing (synthesis) will become extremely cheap.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2006 April 30 02:14 PM Biotech Advance Rates|