This week’s edition of Nature magazine has a feature on synthetic biology, an approach to making sophisticated nanomachines by taking bacteria and reprogramming them to achieve the functions you want. I wrote about this a few months ago, here. The feature includes a couple of in-depth reviews of the field and a discussion of potential ethical issues. The editor’s summary is here, with links to the full articles for those with subscriptions to Nature.
There’s also a news item on iGEM 2005 – an international, intercollegiate competition in which students teams from 17 universities, including Cambridge, MIT and ETH Zurich, competed to build a functioning device by re-engineering bacteria. This sounds like a very effective way of energising a new field.
Always ready to innovate with new kinds of scientific communication, Nature also commissioned a comic strip on the subject, Adventures in Synthetic Biology. This is well worth a look.