Machine metaphors: Ethical and philosophical challenges in synthetic biology

The emerging field of synthetic biology faces a growing need for conceptual clarification and ethical deliberation. Dr Joachim Boldt from the University of Freiburg has analysed the using of machine metaphors in describing biological systems, and how language affects the approaches we have towards synthetic biology research. In addition to oversimplifying biological systems, machine metaphors can create new biosafety risks and […]

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Synthetic cells have senses too

this article is about Prof Liu and Prof Noireaux’s project aim is to construct synthetic cells, consisting of a cell-free expression system encapsulated into a cell-sized phospholipid vesicle, capable of sensing the environment through its lipid bilayer by expressing mechanosensitive channels.

What defines a living cell? How to capture the molecular essence of life? These fundamental questions underpin the collaborative research programme led by Prof Allen Liu at the University of Michigan and Prof Vincent Noireaux at the University of Minnesota. The pair uses molecular components to construct prototypes of synthetic cells displaying the minimal characteristics of life. Their ‘cell analogs’ […]

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