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Synthetic Biology

Synthesis of conolidine


The research group of Michael A. Tarselli at the Scripps Research Institute in California developed a new synthetic drug targeted towards pain relief. The natural product conolidine of the bark of Tabernaemontana divaricata (crepe jasmine) has served as a model for the drug. Conolidine is used in traditional Asian medicine as an anti-inflammatory substance applied to wounds, against toothpain and cancer.

Commonly used drugs for those disorders are several opiates, which exhibit many side effects from unpleasant to lethal. The new drug based on synthetic conolidine did not show any side effects in a mouse model, which makes is a favorite for further development.

If your goal is to create similar synthetic compounds based on the engineering of a natural protein template, Entelechon can help: We specialize in gene optimization and protein engineering. Our DNA library service can help you to quickly produce and scan protein variants of a target gene, and our bioinformatics unit is happy to help with target sequence retrieval and analysis. If you are interested, please contact us for an in-depth discussion with our head of laboratory, Dr. Iris Kobl, or Markus Fischer who leads the bioinformatics team.

The full article can be acquired at:

Forthcoming event: Bio:Fiction – Science, Art & Film Festival


The Bio:Fiction will take place on May 13th and 14th 2011 in the Museum of Natural History in Vienna (Austria).

The festival highlights synthetic biology from different perspectives.

Film festival announces 130 short films from 25 countries.  Films will be shown and then juged and awarded by a jury of filmmakers and synthetic biology scientists.

Science talks and panel discussions about science, societal issues, applications, design, art and future outlook of synthetic biology could be attended by scientists, students, media and the public.

Exibition ‘Synth-ethic’ will take place till June 26th. Ten international known artists will be exhibited in the Museum of Natural History.

For more information visit the festival site:


UC Berkeley launches Synthetic Biology Institute


A new institute dedicated to the emerging field of synthetic biology has been launched in the USA. 33 faculties and scientists of 8 academic departments of the University of Berkeley and 4 divisions of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) has been merged to the interdisciplinary UC Berkeley Synthetic Biology Institute (SBI).

Matthew Tirrell, SBI’s founding director, said: “SBI seeks to bridge the gap between the small-scale, biological engineering of the present and industrial-level production by developing design tools and other infrastructure to produce synthetic biological systems reliably on a large scale.”

The SBI wants to expedite Synthetic Biology to gain new break-throughs and achievements in drug development, biofuel production, cancer research, and ecological-friendly technologies.

TU Berlin: parallel bio-universe with genetic fire-wall


The Cluster of Excellence UniCat (Unifying Concepts in Catalaysis), Berlin, is using a new synthetic biology method to design industrial bacteria with novel catalytic functions. The research consortium led by biochemist Nediljko Burdisa in collaboration with biologist Philippe Maliére aims to develop artificial cells using the concepts of “codon emancipation” and directed evolution. “Codon emancipation” will make it possible to breed novel organisms which use an alternative chemistry. A so-called “genetic firewall” is established which makes the bacteria to be reliant on a specific nutrient solution.These cells theoretically remain viable for indefinite periods of time, as long as they are cultured in this special medium but they will die in a natural environment. The artifical cells should serve in the future as ecological-friendly biocatalyst for fuel production, for drug development or development of biocompatible material. (in German)

Biological nanowires expedite future fuel production


Four transatlantic teams of scientists were awarded with $10.3 million to improve the photosynthetic process to produce renewable fuel.

The aim of the teams is to gain access to the overspill of energy which plants produce during photosynthesis and convert it in a resource for the metabolism of a fuel-producing species. The plan is to improve this process until there is a trans-cellular, plug-and-play-platform to shunt electrons from the photosynthetic source cells to indepentently engineered fuel production modules along biological nanowires.

Small code change, big effect (EMBL-Article in ‘Angewandte Chemie’)


The recent issue of Angewandte Chemie international Edition (March 23) contains a publication about the achievements of scientists of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg.

Carsten Schultz, Edward Lemke and their research team managed to replace one amino acid with a tailor-made artifical one. Undetectable for the spell-checking-machinery in the cell this artificial amino acid can be incorporated into a protein and can serve as loading site for different labels. With this innovative approach it is possible to label proteins very precisely for optical imaging.

The new technology enables scientists to use fluorescent dyes for high-contrast microscopy in a more efficient way whereas the disturbance in the cell is minimal compared to the current techniques which depend on introducing much larger molecules.

After testing the method in E.coli, the EMBL scientists want to test this novel technology also in mammalian cells.

World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing returns to Toronto


From May 8th – 11th the 8th World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing will take place in Toronto.

This world congress is the world’s largest industrial biotechnology event attracting business leaders, investors and policy makers interested in biofuels, biobased products, synthetic biology, and renewable chemicals. Partnering and investor sessions will give opportunities for networking and finding investors. In addition, the scientific program, the exhibition, and poster sessions will give an overview of the latest technological developments and insights in real world scenarios for bringing technological solutions to market.

Organisers of the  event are BIO, BIOTECanada, and the Agri-Technology Commercialization Centre (ATCC).

For program and application visit:

Interview: Jay Keasling: ‘We can use synthetic biology to make jet fuel’


Jay Keasling, professor of bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley and CEO of the US Department of Energy’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), gave an interview to ‘The Observer’, printed on February 27th, about his work of creating synthetic jet fuel. Five years ago he already got much attention by creating a frontline drug for malaria. Now he wants to revolutionize the fuel market.
From his point of view it is not necessary to change the transport infrastructure to suit a fuel like ethanol but the biology to build a fuel that will work with the existing infrastructure. He started to manipulate E. coli to produce a diesel fuel. Due to its special properties the production of this new petrol is easier than the refinery of the already customized ethanol.
His ambition is to replace 30% of transportation fuel in the next 20- to 30- years with his synthetic diesel from a renewable resource. He wants to make his fuel appropriate to even trucks, trains and airplanes. In addition, based on synthetic biology the novel technology should replace bit by bit the use of petroleum in other economical secctions like  e.g. the fabrication of polymers and plastic.

Jay Keasling in „The Observer“ 27.02.2011: Interview by Ian Sample

News: MIT snags UCFS synthetic biology expert Chris Voigt


On February 21st Chris Voigt proclaimed his change of employment. He will leave his assistant professorship at the University of California, San Francisco, for a job as associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute ot Technology.
After the depature of Don Ganem and Ken Dill, Voigt is the third important employee leaving the University. The assumption suggests itself, that the fiscal crisis is the reason for all these departures.
Chris Voigt, senior author of a paper in ‘Life Technologies’ about engineering E.coli with molecular circuit, was also an important member of SynBERC (Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center), which is located at UC Berkeley. The only brigth spot is, that Refactored Materials, the company of Chris Voigt, Ethan Mirsky and David Breslauer to produce flexible, full-synthetic spidersilk, won’t move from the Bay Area.


Forthcoming event: Conference ‘Synthetic Biology: Synthetic Life?’


The conference ‘Synthetic Biology: Synthetic Life?’ of the ‘Evangelische Akadmie Meissen’ (protestant academy Meissen) will take place on 8th- 10th of April 2011.

With the increasing importance of synthetic biology the ethical issue and societal aspect come more and more to the fore. The pros and cons of synthetic biology and the requirements for new regulations will be topics of this conference. In addition, the future perspectives of synthetic biology will be discussed.

For program and application visit:[showUid]=890 (in German)