Synthetic Biology promises low-cost, exponentially scalable products and global health solutions in the form of self-replicating organisms, or “living devices.” As these promises are realized, proof-of-concept systems will gradually migrate from tightly regulated laboratory or industrial environments into private spaces as, for instance, probiotic health products, food, and even do-it-yourself bioengineered systems. What additional steps, if any, should be taken before releasing engineered self-replicating organisms into a broader user space? In this review, we explain how studies of genetically modified organisms lay groundwork for the future landscape of biosafety. Early in the design process, biological engineers are anticipating potential hazards and developing innovative tools to mitigate risk. Here, we survey lessons learned, ongoing efforts to engineer intrinsic biocontainment, and how different stakeholders in synthetic biology can act to accomplish best practices for biosafety.
Keywords: synthetic biology, biosafety research, containment of biohazards, risk assessment
Citation: Moe-Behrens GHG, Davis R and Haynes KA (2013) Preparing synthetic biology for the world. Front. Microbio. 4:5. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2013.00005
Received: 23 October 2012; Accepted: 04 January 2013;
Published online: 25 January 2013.
Edited by:David Nielsen, Arizona State University, USA
Reviewed by:Lei Chen, Tianjin University, China
Copyright © 2013 Moe-Behrens, Davis and Haynes. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.
*Correspondence: Karmella A. Haynes, School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering, Arizona State University, 501 E Tyler Mall, 9709 Tempe, AZ 85287, USA. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org