Synthetic biology is defined as the engineering of biological components and systems that do not exist in nature and the re-engineering of existing biological elements; it is determined on the intentional design of artificial biological systems, rather than on the understanding of natural biology (European Commission, 2005).
Synthetic biology builds on the advances in molecular and cell biology. It is to be hoped that synthetic biology would transform biology in the same way that synthesis transformed chemistry and integrated circuit design transformed computing.
The element that distinguishes synthetic biology from traditional molecular and cellular biology is the focus on the design and construction of core components (enzyme complexes, gene circuits, metabolic pathways among others) that can be modelled, and tuned to meet specific product development.
Two direct applications from synthetic biology may include: 1) engineering microorganisms for production of specialty and commodity chemicals (drugs) and 2) engineering microorganisms for bioenergy production.
The International Symposium on Synthetic Biology, to be held from Oct 18 to 19 in Singapore, aims to provide an interactive platform for discussion on the current status and future prospects of this emerging area of research.