Many people have asked me what I think about the DoNo platform, which allows consumers to turn factory owners’ factory sites into a living lab, free of charge. What’s my take?
Natural Lab, actually.
About two weeks ago, I wrote up the Institute for the Future’s DIYEngineering innovation tour, which is a great news hook for more people to look into this field.
You can see more impressive examples of how synthetic biology can transform both individuals and the environment right here.
I love what the team at Twisted Flame are doing with a completely automated fermentation process to make alcohol ethyl alcohol.
However, I don’t think they are actually on the brink of providing a “cure-all” for curing everything from curing cancer to curing cancer, as Will Fischer of anOnion blog suggests.
As we have seen, this industry isn’t just about starting all over again with a new organism. It involves technology development, equipment costs, and possibly information technology enhancements that will allow people to get much better in a relatively short period of time.
While it’s true that there’s a low entry barrier, it can get even more expensive for an ordinary person who wants to access this industry for the first time.
As such, I don’t see these sorts of kinds of ideas alone leading to a “hundred years of medical miracles.”
Even when you look at synthetic biology research, such as stem cell biology, as an example, I don’t see how their technology is ever going to change human physiology. We already have very sophisticated and efficient systems of all types that can replace the cancer cells, after all.
Developing the technology to provide medical cures will take much more complex engineering than just sequencing the genome of a bacteria. From what I’ve seen in the field, such a process will require multiple steps, including converting the code of the code in various proteins and enzymes to the code of our own genes.
Eventually, I think this is when these technologies will actually be able to revolutionize everything from medicine to agriculture. However, that is still years, if not decades, away.
Thus, the company that I would like to invite you to read more about is Organovo, which has developed a unique technology to create functional tissue and organs in mice and monkeys. It is an awesome technology and an incredibly scalable approach to what it means to deal with tissue engineering.
However, Organovo still has a long way to go in order to get into the clinical trial business. It needs to prove that it can produce these tissues efficiently at a large scale, something that will cost the company millions to do.
You can go here to read more about Organovo.
Organovo, by the way, is another non-profit that we’ve partnered with here at the Washington Post to cover their amazing work.
For more information on the DoNo project, go here.