Safeguarding the Genetic Firewall with Xenobiology

Founder, Biofaction KG, Austria


While progress is being made in synthetic biology to make biology easier to engineer, the safety regulations and risk assessment practices will soon be rendered outdated and inadequate to handle upcoming developments of synthetic biology functions, organisms, and products. Xenobiology, the science of biological systems made out of alternative biochemical structures, may provide a new set of tools to establish an innovative solution, a genetic firewall, to future biosafety challenges. This genetic firewall will provide a stronger safety framework than would a series of small ad hoc fixes to a set of regulations designed for genetic engineering. Decisive and collaborative action by scientists, policy makers, and other stakeholders is needed to face the medium- to long-term biosafety risks of synthetic biology.