UK leadership in engineering biology
The UK government has provided investment through a range of programmes including funding via UKRI. This is enabling the infrastructure needed to allow the continued development of the UK’s position as a global leader in engineering biology. NPL are developing a necessary metrology infrastructure to support innovation and enable standardisation and industrialisation of EngBio. Our work in developing and validating biological systems for commercial purposes is helping to bring together the cross-functional teams necessary for the full exploitation of EngBio’s potential. A range of government and industry led publications highlight the need for technical and documentary standards to underpin both engineering biology’s ongoing development as a driver of growth not only for individual companies or sectors but for the UK economy as a whole.You can read more about the UK’s engineering biology approach and learn more about key initiatives below.
Multi-disciplinary solutions for engineering biology applications
Engineering biology is not a single discipline or area of research. As an approach to manufacturing new and innovative solutions, EngBio depends on bringing together engineering principles in combination with the understanding, characterisation and exploitation of biological systems to produce products and solutions through new ways. The premise is that we can engineer biological systems to perform new functions in a modular, reliable and predictable way.
NPL’s metrology expertise is helping emerging companies across the UK to leverage this approach providing the ability to scale-up new engineering biology solutions. We are also providing the ability to characterise and benchmark EngBio systems using the basic building blocks of DNA and synthetic cell free systems.
A systems approach to understanding EngBio applications
The biological processes exploited in engineering biology are coded by nucleic acids – the information source for all living things. However realising the full potential of EngBio requires an ability to not only sequence or read the DNA code, it also requires an understanding of its structure. The ability to not only read DNA but to “write” the language of DNA, coupled with a more complete understanding of cellular processes and biological systems, are all key elements to realising the full potential engineering biology has to offer.
DNA synthesis technologies review
Understanding structure, function and activity within biological systems
Enzyme driven processes, cell function and the relationships between DNA, structure and activity are all required for the successful exploitation of biological systems and the delivery of innovative new products and processes.
A successful engineering biology programme, regardless of application, requires a cross-disciplinary team of engineers, cell and molecular biologists, physicists, data scientists and industry sector-specific application specialists. This team will come together to provide the insight and understanding for the successful exploitation of relevant biological systems.
It is this wide ranging potential application and the cross-disciplinary nature of engineering biology that has been the greatest hurdle to overcome in delivering its undoubted revolutionary potential. NPL’s metrology expertise is helping to address these challenges.