Maintenance of human health is among the most complex industries on the planet, with factors ranging from disease, genetics, and injuries; eating, exercise, and environmental exposure; pills, apps, and surgeries all playing a part. Medicines are part of most of them, and the pharmaceuticals industry is thus one with roots that stretch back to the dawn of civilization. In the last 30 years, biopharma – the use of large, complex biomolecules (like insulin) as opposed to so-called small-molecule drugs (like penicillin) – has become one of the biggest drivers of industry transformation in a century. Biomolecules can address diseases in immunology, oncology, genetic defects, and many other conditions that small molecule drugs simply cannot treat. But discovering and creating biomolecules, manufacturing them at scale, then formulating and delivering them to patients are all completely different – and difficult. Synthetic biology is a critical new tool, as the historical means of engineering genes and proteins are running into both technical and economic limitations. The frontier of biopharmaceuticals today – engineering not just genes or proteins, but entire cells as therapeutic agents – is an even clearer fit with synthetic biology’s tools and techniques.0
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