Synthetic toolbox: Synthetic biology

Summary and further reading

This page reproduces content from B. Wiltschi and A. Glieder, Synthetic Biology for Organic Syntheses, in Green and Sustainable Medicinal Chemistry: Methods, Tools and Strategies for the 21st Century Pharmaceutical Industry, L. Summerton, H. F. Sneddon, L. C. Jones and J. H. Clark, Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, UK, 2016, ch. 14, pp. 165-179.It is copyright to the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and is reproduced here with their express permission. If you wish to reproduce it elsewhere you must obtain similar permission from the RSC.

Synthetic biology approaches can help reduce dependance on fossil-derived raw materials and can also promote innovative synthesis routes that are not feasible via classical chemistry.

In this module we have looked at the opportunities and limitations for synthetic biology as a tool to support green chemistry.  Living cells are capable of producing complex compounds such as alkaloids, antibiotics or terpenoids from simple carbon sources such as CO2 and carbon monoxide, energy, hydrogen, oxygen, water and salts.  Whilst synthetic biology offers complementary synthetic routes it is not necessarily always greener than chemical synthesis from finite carbon sources.

Recommended reading:

B. Wiltschi and A. Glieder, Synthetic Biology for Organic Syntheses, in Green and Sustainable Medicinal Chemistry: Methods, Tools and Strategies for the 21st Century Pharmaceutical Industry, L. Summerton, H. F. Sneddon, L. C. Jones and J. H. Clark, Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, UK, 2016, ch. 14, pp. 165-179.