Synthetic Biology Expands and Grows – Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

Posted: June 12, 2017 at 9:53 pm

This post was added by Dr P. Richardson

Synthetic biology is an exciting and rapidly evolving field of research that can broadly be defined as the design (or redesign) and construction of novel artificial biological pathways, organisms, or devices. Applying engineering principles to biological components allows us to probe, manipulate, and modify cell function.

The core synthetic biology toolkit is comprised of both biological and engineering functions: molecular manipulation, deep data analysis, and computer algorithms. Below are just a few innovations highlighted at the SynBioBeta conference, which took place in London in April.

Synthetic Biology is here to stay, says John Sgouros, consultant, Biomax Informatics. Customization of molecules and whole microorganisms creates tremendous opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry, environmental biotechnology, and industrial materials. However, optimizing the discovery, genetic engineering, and manufacturing processes driving these innovations is highly dependent on systematic analysis of vast amounts of data.

Data accumulate rapidly and exponentially, often in an unstructured manner, siloed between internal and external databases, according to Sgouros.

Biomaxs BioXM knowledge management platform deals with data in a systematic manner: from digitalization to the semantic integration of diverse content and workflows, and further, to systematic feedback of results to find the optimal way forward. Database integration is done by configuration (i.e., point-and-click) without the need to write source codea huge advantage, continues Sgouros.

To the end user, the BioXM platform delivers a graphical representation of biomedical knowledge about a given subject, which is easy to explore by clicking on any data field, relationships indicated by connecting arrows. Beneath the user interface is a vast semantically organized knowledge space comprising hundreds of thousands of data elements from published genetic and biochemical information, laboratory notebooks, pharmaceutical databases, electronic health records, and other resources.

Biomaxs proprietary algorithms also extract knowledge from literature and present the end user with a systematic overview of information about genes, biomolecules, drugs, etc., as an interactive map. A powerful example of BioXM application is in personalized medicine, profiling patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) based on comorbidities and response to rehabilitation. Multidimensional data from over 5,000 COPD patients at the CIRO+ hospital in The Netherlands were integrated with BioXM and analyzed using the Biomax Viscovery software.

The resulting self-organizing maps identified patient clusters with significantly different profiles. Implementation of the clustering in the clinical setting enabled a customized therapeutic approach for each new patient, with considerable costs savings to the hospital. BioXM also forms the knowledge management core for PREPARE [Platform for European Preparedness Against (Re-)emerging Epidemics], analyzing relationships between pathogens and resulting pathophysiology. BioXM is unique as a knowledge management platform seamlessly linking clinical phenotypes to biochemical pathways, pharmacology and genetic variation, along with drug discovery and synthetic biology.

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Synthetic Biology Expands and Grows - Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

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