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Published On: January 31st, 2023Categories: Articles, Synthetic Biology

What is a Transformation in Biology?

Synthetic biology’s future depends highly on the applications being used for research and discovery. Complete workflow solutions aid in cell line production, which is an integral piece of one type of synthetic biology—cellular agriculture. If you’re wondering, “how did they create synthetic meat?,” the answer is synthetic biology.

Synthetic biology is a relatively new science. In 2010, the first synthetic cell was created at the J. Craig Venter Institute, and in 2013, Dr. Mark Post introduced the first lab-grown burger in London, with a hefty price tag of $300,000 per patty. According to Science Focus, Dr. Post believes he can reduce that cost to $10 per patty—if the technology was “scaled up” to an industrial level. Synthetic biology’s future in cellular agriculture dependent highly upon the synthetic biology applications being used. Read on to learn more about cell-cultured meats and other synthetic biology products, and how the right technologies can assist in cell line production.

Synthetic Biology’s Future: What Is Synthetic Beef Made Of?

Cellular agriculture could be a viable alternative to current industrial factory farming practices if cell-cultured meats can be created on an industrial scale. Cell-cultured meat is made by growing mammalian muscle cells in a nutrient system, followed by encouraging muscle-like fibers. Simply put, it is possible for someone to be growing meat in a petri dish. However, the process is much more complex than that.

Because the cells are mammalian, the process of development and scaling is very similar to methods used in biologics production, cell line development being the most important factor. As synthetic biology’s future rests on technology, automated single-cell isolation and high-content cellular imaging are two methods researchers can use in cellular agriculture production. So, what does a cell line development workflow look like, and what technology can aid in the processes?

Synthetic Biology’s Future: A Single-Cell Line Development Workflow

The genetic modification of mammalian cells is often used to produce antibodies, growth factors, and hormones. Monoclonal cell line development is essential to cellular agriculture, and it is a multi-step process. This process involves single-cell cloning, the formation of discrete colonies, and the isolation of those colonies. Further, quality and assessment are important. Monoclonality verification ensures that the cell line originates from one progenitor (meaning it is monoclonal).

Fully integrated automated solutions can help with this process. For example, one look at single-cell line development may look like this:

  • Obtaining a tissue sample
  • Single-cell isolation (using imaging systems and single-cell printers)
  • Characterization (using a cellular imaging system)
  • Scaling up
  • Quality control (using a microplate reader)

Manual screening for cell-line development is time-consuming and labor-intensive, which is why synthetic biology’s future depends on applications and workflows that can work quickly in real-time, such as liquid handling equipment.

There are other applications in overall cell line development that can be advantageous to the development process.

Synthetic Biology’s Future: Stable Cell Line Development

The process for developing overall stable cell lines includes transfecting selected host cells, mainly CHO or HEK 293 cells, with desired plasmids. After transfection is complete, high-expressing clones are then screened and quantified. Afterward, the cell lines (or proteins) are validated. Instead of using manual labor to complete a stable cell line development process, automated systems can be used instead, which improves quality while saving time and costs. Another workflow and its associated systems may look something like:

  • Transfection – cell culture media
  • Antibodies screening and titer ranking – mammalian colony picker
  • Single-cell isolation – single-cell dispenser
  • Monoclonality assurance – single-cell imaging system
  • Clone productivity screening and titer – microplate reader with an imaging cytometer

Synthetic Biology’s Future: Cell Line Development Applications

Single-cell line development can be used more than cell-cultured meats and monoclonality assurance.. Synthetic biology’s future also includes methods and applications such as cell viability, cell surface expression screening, colony picking, single-cell courting, and COVID-19 and infectious disease research. Synthetic biology in plant production is also significant in laboratory-synthesized yeast, modified crops, bioremediation, and more.

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