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Toxicol Sci. 2010 Nov 10;
Authors: Schmidt M, Pei L
This article examines the implications of synthetic biology (SB) for toxicological sciences. Starting with a working definition of SB, we describe its current subfields, namely DNA synthesis, the engineering of DNA-based biological circuits, minimal genome research, attempts to construct protocells and synthetic cells, and efforts to diversify the biochemistry of life through xenobiology. Based on the most important techniques, tools and expected applications in SB, we describe the ramifications of SB for toxicology under the label of synthetic toxicology. We differentiate between cases where SB offers opportunities for toxicology and where SB poses challenges for toxicology. Among the opportunities, we identified the assistance of SB to: construct novel toxicity testing platforms, define new toxicity-pathway assays, explore the potential of SB to improve in vivo biotransformation of toxins, present novel biosensors developed by SB for environmental toxicology, discuss cell-free protein synthesis of toxins, reflect on the contribution to toxic use reduction, and the democratisation of toxicology through do-it-yourself biology. Among the identified challenges for toxicology, we identify synthetic toxins and novel xenobiotics, biosecurity and dual-use considerations, the potential bridging of toxic substances and infectious agents, and Do-it-yourself toxin production.
PMID: 21068213 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
(Via pubmed: "synthetic biology".)