Prospects for Applying Synthetic Biology to Toxicology: Future Opportunities and Current Limitations for the Repurposing of Cytochrome P450 Systems
The 30 years since the inception of Chemical Research in Toxicology , game-changing advances in chemical and molecular biology, the fundamental disciplines underpinning molecular toxicology, have been made. While these have led to important advances in the study of mechanisms by which chemicals damage cells and systems, there has been less focus on applying these advances to prediction, detection, and mitigation of toxicity. Over the last ∼15 years, synthetic biology, the repurposing of biological “parts” in systems engineered for useful ends, has been explored in other areas of the biomedical and life sciences, for such applications as detecting metabolites, drug discovery and delivery, investigating disease mechanisms, improving medical treatment, and producing useful chemicals. These examples provide models for the application of synthetic biology to toxicology, which, for the most part, has not yet benefited from such approaches. In this perspective, we review the synthetic biology approaches that have been applied to date and speculate on possible short to medium term and “blue sky” aspirations for synthetic biology, particularly in clinical and environmental toxicology. Finally, we point out key hurdles that must be overcome for the full potential of synthetic biology to be realized. Graphic Abstract
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