Over the last 50 years, exponential increases in our ability to manipulate electrons and engineer electronic systems have spawned a revolution in information technology. Similarly, rapid improvements in technologies for reading and writing DNA are now transforming our capacity to engineer biological systems. Leveraging these technologies, synthetic biology is an emerging discipline for designing biological systems with novel functionalities. The field has opened up new strategies for interrogating, understanding, diagnosing, and treating human diseases.
The Broad's Timothy Lu discusses several relevant examples where we have created effective and highly specific antimicrobial agents, identified novel pathways for re-sensitizing highly-drug-resistant bacteria to antibiotic therapy, and invented rapid analytic procedures for detecting microbial pathogens.