Synthetic biology has been hailed as a revolution in biotechnology, enabling bold new possibilities in areas such as energy production, medicines, and other applications.
But, is it really revolutionary, or just a new tool? With our current knowledge of the structure and function of proteins, the ability for de novo engineering is relatively limited. The near-term use of synthetic biology appears to be as a more-extreme version of gene splicing rather than the design of entirely new organisms, enyzmes, and biochemical pathways.
The good news is that synthetic biology is already paying dividends. For an overview of cases of successful implementation, see BIO’s report: Synthetic Biology and Everyday Products.