Bio 2.0 is coming, with protein synthesis on-demand. I thought it was in the far future, but then I found this great hands-on article explaining how to do it, right now!

Transcriptic Workcell

That article blew my mind two ways:

  1. You can literally type a sequence of base pairs (e.g., ATCGATTGAGCTCTAGCG) into a text file and a lab can create the protein you specified.

  2. You can completely automate testing. The above article shows how to write a Python program to say exactly how you want your biology experiment conducted. Your experiment can have conditions. The way the above works is that you run your Python program against their SDK and get a JSON file (which they call a protocol file) which encodes your program. You give them your JSON protocol file, and they run your protocol in their lab.

Imagine if all of science had such documented and repeatable experiments. Then to verify someone else's experiment, you could just download their experiment protocol, and upload it to a provider to run. Or you could make minor tweaks, and run it again.

Some quick questions (and my guessed answers!) about this:

  • they won't ship to home addresses

  • there is a length limit to the base pairs they can handle

  • they only work with bacteria, not animal cells

  • it only costs a few hundred bucks to get a simple sample


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