Why do we need standards?
The element that distinguishes synthetic biology from traditional molecular and cellular biology is the focus on the design and construction of core components (e.g. parts of enzymes, genetic circuits, metabolic pathways) that can be modelled, understood and tuned to meet specific performance criteria, and the assembly of these smaller parts and devices into larger integrated systems to solve specific problems. Implicit in this definition of synthetic biology is the need for some element of ‘standardisation’ that meets the need for the community to exchange and share knowledge, materials (‘parts’) and data so as to better understand how to build complex systems from smaller components with accuracy and predictability.
A lack of standardisation could hinder growth of the field and ultimately slow the commercialisation of synthetic biology longer term. It is the setting and implementation of standards that remains a contentious issue for the community. We are working in collaboration with the National Physics Laboratory to help define and develop workable standards for synthetic biology.