- Merging Synthetic Biology and Synthetic Chemistry
Synthetic biology and synthetic chemistry represent two independent approaches to chemical synthesis. Yet both offer unique benefits that are rarely combined. We believe that by merging the sustainable and programmable features of biological systems with the flexibility and scope offered by modern synthetic chemistry the best of both worlds can be harnessed to drive a green chemical industry.
Engineered Microorganisms for Green Chemical Synthesis
Industrial biotechnology has emerged an elegant approach to modern chemical manufacture, where chemical pathways in microorganisms can be assembled using modern synthetic biology techniques. This enables the synthesis of complex molecules of industrial value directly from sustainable feedstocks via fermentation. In our lab, we use a chemical understanding of microbial metabolism to build new biosynthetic pathways in living cells with the aim of applying these organisms to the production of small molecule targets of interest to the modern chemical industry.
Biocompatible Reactions in Living Microorganisms
Engineering living cells to access molecules that are not found in Nature is a huge challenge in synthetic biology, especially when compared to the structural diversity that can be readily accessed in synthetic chemistry. Inspired by this realisation, our lab develops new biocompatible reactions – “non-enzymatic reactions that can be interfaced with cellular metabolism”. This enables chemical catalysts traditionally used in organic chemistry to be deployed inside living microorganisms to expand the chemical diversity of engineered metabolic pathways "beyond biology".
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