Another area with potential environmental benefits is bioremediation. Micro organisms or even plants could be engineered to degrade pesticides and remove pollutants in water, soil and air.
A biosensor refers to an engineered organism, usually a bacterium, that is capable of reporting some ambient phenomenon such as the presence of heavy metals or toxins. Modified organisms can sense environmental signals and send output signals that can be detected and serve diagnostic purposes. Microbe cohorts have been used.
In vivo applications: There are a range of potential applications of synthetic biology which could monitor and respond to conditions in the human body. For example, regulatory circuits could be designed which trigger insulin production in diabetes (ITI Life sciences 2007). Bacteria or viruses could be programmed to identify malignant cancer cells and deliver therapeutic agents (Serrano 2007). Viruses have also been engineered to interact with HIV- infected cells, which could prevent the development of AIDS.
New drug development pathways: One of the avenues of synthetic biology that has wide application is the development of alternative production routes for useful compounds, and one of the most discussedis the construction of an artificial metabolic pathway in E. coli and yeast to produce a precursor( arteminisin) for an antimalarial drug (Martin et al 2003)
Biofuels: One of the most widely discussed areas of future application of synthetic biology research is biofuels. There are many ways of engineering microorganisms to produce carbon-neutral (or more environmentally friendly) sources of energy. Forexample, bacteria could be engineered to synthesize hydrogen or ethanol by degrading cellulose, although further work is needed to overcome technical barriers.
Design proteins especially in pharmaceuticals: Natural proteins can be engineered, for example, by directed evolution, novel protein structures that match or improve on the functionality of existing proteins can be produced. Researchers and companies practice synthetic biology to synthesize industrial enzymes with high activity, optimal yields and effectiveness. These synthesized enzymes aim to improve products such as detergents and lactose-free dairy products, as well as make them more cost effective.The improvements of metabolic engineering by synthetic biology is an example of a biotechnological technique utilized in industry to discover pharmaceuticals and fermentative chemicals.
Biological computers: A biological computer refers to an engineered biological system that can perform computer-like operations, which is a dominant paradigm in synthetic biology. Researchers demonstrated the ‘Boolean logic and arithmetic through DNA excision’ (BLADE) system to engineer digital computation in human cells.
Cell transformation: Cells use interacting genes and proteins, which are called gene circuits, to implement diverse function, such as responding to environmental signals, decision making and communication. Three key components are involved: DNA, RNA and Synthetic biologist designed gene circuits that can control gene expression from several levels including transcriptional, post-transcriptional and translational levels.