The global synthetic biology market is fueled by extensive research in DNA sequencing and rising governmental support. The growing importance of synthetic biology can be attributed to the demand for GMO (genetically modified) crops. Demand for biofuels and progress in molecular biology have had a positive impact on the global industry. Other drivers are high incidence of diabetes, the problem of obesity, growing geriatric population, and improved healthcare infrastructure.
An amalgam of engineering and biology, synthetic biology involves the designing & development of biological devices that are employed in varied applications. It is an umbrella term that also includes aspects, like the remodeling of existing biological parts and the introduction of innovative biological-based devices & parts. Commercially, the industry is in the nascent stage. Costs of data generation have plummeted radically because of affordability of DNA sequencing. Synthetic biology has not only reduced the costs of DNA sequencing but has also contributed significantly to green energy.
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The worldwide synthetic biology market is categorized on the basis of products, applications, technology, and geographies. Based on products, the industry is bifurcated into enabling products and core products. Enabling products is further divided into oligonucleotide synthesis and DNA synthesis. Core products are synthetic DNA, synthetic genes, synthetic cells, chassis organisms, and Xeno nucleic acid (XNA). Owing to in-depth R&D and extensive commercialization, the synthetic DNA segment dominated the overall industry in 2013.
As per applications, the segments are healthcare, agriculture, bio-fuels, chemicals, and others. “Others” includes energy & environment, biosecurity, and R&D. Healthcare applications held the largest share in the global industry in 2013. Factors that fuel this segment are high production of nutraceuticals for supplements, newer therapies, vitamins, regenerative medicine, and for reprogramming stem cells. Technology-wise, the synthetic biology market is categorized into biological components, genome engineering, integrated systems, DNA sequencing, and bioinformatics. Genome engineering generated highest revenues for the global industry in 2013. Considerable progress in this field has reaped substantial market returns.
Geographical segments of the overall synthetic biology market are Asia Pacific, North America, Europe, and RoW (Rest of the World). Due to a strong technological base, inclination towards in-depth R&D activities, and favorable governmental initiatives, North America dominates the worldwide market. Widespread awareness among patients is another vital driver in the region. However, due to surging healthcare spending and consciousness about hospital acquired infections, China and India can exhibit positive growth trends. This may stand to benefit the entire Asia Pacific region over the forecast period (2016 to 2024). Key companies operating in the worldwide market are Bioneer Corporation, Cobalt Technologies, Evolva SA, Gene Script Corporation, and Exxon Mobil Corporation.
Synthetic biology is increasingly being used by scientists to develop genetic circuits that can be planted in cells for the production of useful molecules & drugs. However, the genetic components may interfere with one another because of complexities in the genetic circuits. Researchers at MIT have developed ways in which these circuits can be separated in each synthetic cell. Interactions between these cells can also be controlled; which in turn enables the circuits to be combined at certain times. The synthetic cells in question are not living cells but contain enough cellular machinery to produce proteins and read DNA.