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2021-11-21| Special

The Era of Enzymatic DNA Synthesis: How Can DNA Printing Be Useful for Research?

by Ameya Paleja
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If you were involved in molecular biology research at the turn of the millennium, you would remember how painful it was to determine the effect of changes in DNA sequence in your gene of interest. Not only did you have to carry out lengthy assays, but you also needed to first make those changes happen yourself.

DNA printing is the branch of synthetic biology that deals with manufacturing DNA molecules on a large scale. In the past, manufacturing has relied on bacterial fermentation systems that are long drawn out processes and even require the use of antibiotic resistance genes to select the right bacteria in the mix. The method generates a significant amount of waste and is also time-intensive since there are a series of steps needed to isolate the molecule of interest from the biological machinery that makes it.

Chemical-based synthesis has another disadvantage. The process of manufacturing uses toxic chemicals that need to be dealt with appropriately and by waste management experts. Apart from administrative headaches, these chemicals are also not eco-friendly. So, even though they may be off your site, they are still polluting somewhere else. This has prompted biotech entrepreneurs to look for more innovative ways to synthesize DNA without having to deal with toxic chemicals but also speed up custom DNA production. 

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