Scientists in Edinburgh have opened the first fully automated DNA production facility in the UK.
The Edinburgh Genome Foundry will design, build and test large sections of DNA using robotic processes. Researchers at the facility are seeking to create and modify long strands of DNA that can be used to equip cells or organisms with new or improved functions.
The products that result could lead to advances such as programming stem cells for use in personalised medicines, developing bacteria that can detect disease in the gut or altering the DNA of biofuel crops to enable a higher yield. Housed at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Biological Sciences, the Foundry is primarily funded by the Research Councils UK’s Synthetic Biology for Growth Programme.
Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, said: “An even greater understanding of DNA, and the ability to construct and modify it, will lead to untold scientific discoveries that could save millions of lives around the world.”
Professor Susan Rosser, Co-Director of the Foundry, and Chair in Synthetic Biology at The University of Edinburgh, said: “The Edinburgh Genome Foundry will allow us to construct DNA on a large scale and will support synthetic biology in the UK. This will help us both interrogate how cells and organisms operate and realise the many economically important applications of synthetic biology.”