Biological Sciences

Global Alliance of Biofoundries launched to boost synthetic biology

A new network has been launched to bring together the world’s leading biofoundries to drive forward synthetic biology research.

The Global Alliance of Biofoundries (GBA) brings together 16 institutions from countries including the UK, US, Japan, Singapore, China, Australia, Denmark and Canada.

The Centre for Synthetic and Systems Biology and the Edinburgh Genome Foundry are signatories on this exciting new collaboration.

The GBA will play a key role in the drive towards a new global bio-based economy, fuelled by the rapid advances in synthetic biology research.

What is synthetic biology?

The ‘synthetic biology revolution’ aims to create new therapies and diagnostics for challenging diseases and generate environmentally-friendly energy sources, food production and biomaterials.

Synthetic biology merges biology and engineering principles. Practitioners break the genome into smaller parts of DNA – the building blocks of life - to better understand how living systems work. 

Genetic parts can be reused, redesigned and combined to reprogramme existing living systems or build new biological systems – including enzymes and cells – with useful industrial or medical applications.

Researchers are exploring how this approach could be used to create gene therapies to treat diseases or engineer cells that act as ‘biofactories’ churning out medicines, food or fuel.

Accelerating Synthetic Biology

Universities and institutions around the world have created Biofoundries to provide the infrastructure and technology to accelerate synthetic biology research and develop the industry.

Edinburgh is home to one of these Foundries – Edinburgh Genome Foundry – which carries out this complex experimental work faster, cheaper and more efficiently than humans.

State of the art robots and automated processes tackle the laborious and repetitive work of designing, building and testing DNA parts.

The GBA was launched at an event at the University of Kobe, Japan. An article in Nature Communications, published to coincide with the launch, explains how the members will collaborate to address globally relevant challenges.  

We are delighted to be a key partner in this alliance. With one of the most fully automated DNA assembly platforms here in Edinburgh, we are looking forward to working with our international partners to fully harness the power of synthetic biology and the revolution offered by biomedical automation.

Professor Susan RosserCo-Director of the Edinburgh Foundry and Director of the UK Centre for Mammalian Synthetic Biology

Related Links

Global Alliance of BioFoundries  

Nature Communications Article

Edinburgh Genome Foundry

Convention Edinburgh: Edinburgh Genome Foundry Case Study