Spotlight on

Synthetic Biology

Synthetic Biology (SynBio) has many definitions, but it is widely accepted that the field includes the construction of new or redesigned biological systems, and the development of products from such systems. For example, SynBio includes the generation of novel metabolic pathways, redesigned enzymes, and even cells controlled by completely artificial genomes. These technologies have applications in a vast array of areas and have the potential to revolutionise the ways in which biology is used to enhance our daily lives.

There are two main innovation themes within the SynBio field at present: (i) the development of tools, and (ii) the utilisation of such tools to generate products.

The development of new SynBio tools has boomed in recent years, with companies now offering proprietary methods to accelerate and improve research efforts. However, despite this growth, there is still room for considerable innovation within the area. These innovations may have significant commercial value and should be protected with care.

By 2050, the global population is expected to exceed 10 billion. SynBio could help us address concerns such as food shortages, climate change, pandemic control, dwindling fuel reserves, and increasing levels of pollution. More specifically, SynBio could be used to produce or optimise carbon-neutral drop-in fuels, microbes which degrade plastic waste, meat-free protein sources, complex new immunotherapies, and much more.

Disruptive technologies can require novel IP strategies to protect them, and even Patent Offices are on a learning curve as to how to deal with innovations in the SynBio space such as heavily engineered entire genomes, or the use of machine learning to rewire genetic circuits. Whatever your area of innovation in the SynBio field, whether it be platform-technologies, reprogrammed organisms, or novel products, at Mewburn Ellis we have the technical know-how, legal experience, and the commercial insight, to ensure the strongest protection for your IP.

Read our Synthetic Biology Blogs

How helpful are biological deposits in patent prosecution at the EPO?

How helpful are biological deposits in patent prosecution at the EPO?

by Eliot Ward

In our article about biological deposits under the Budapest Treaty, we explored the deadlines and formalities for depositing microorganisms so that the deposit can be referenced in a patent ...

UPC Weekly - Three Known Unknowns at the UPC

UPC Weekly - Three Known Unknowns at the UPC

by Matthew Naylor

2024 Week 23 It’s a bit risky to write a blog where you hope it will go out of date quickly. But right now seems a good time to take stock and draw a breath. Here we summarise the most important ...

Mewburn Ellis ranked ‘gold tier’ in IAM Patent 1000: The World’s Leading Patent Practitioners 2024

Mewburn Ellis ranked ‘gold tier’ in IAM Patent 1000: The World’s Leading Patent Practitioners 2024

by Joanna Smith

We are delighted to once again be ranked ‘gold tier’ in IAM Patent 1000: The World’s Leading Patent Practitioners where we are recommended for our expertise in Patent Prosecution and at the European ...

How liquid air can store solar and wind energy

How liquid air can store solar and wind energy

by Callum McGuinn

Storing energy from solar and wind is a huge challenge. We talk to Highview Power, whose liquid air concept means solar and wind farms can store energy for the long term.

Mewburn Ellis is first European IP firm to earn Great Place To Work Certification™

Mewburn Ellis is first European IP firm to earn Great Place To Work Certification™

by Maria Hall

We are proud to have been officially named as a Great Place To Work™ 2024 by Great Place To Work®, the global authority on workplace culture. This certification proves we have created a great ...

Unitary patent and UPC to cover Romania from 1 September 2024

Unitary patent and UPC to cover Romania from 1 September 2024

by Eliot Ward

The first enlargement of the UPC and Unitary Patent (UP) territory will happen on 1 September 2024, when Romania’s ratification of the UPC Agreement enters into force.

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Synthetic Biology - Unlocking Potential

Synthetic biology has a very wide remit and has the potential to drive the advancement of technology in a huge number of areas. This is in part due to recent massive improvements in the SynBio toolkit, but is also due to the number of worldwide problems that are amenable to a biological solution. Many industries now use SynBio methods:

Healthcare and therapeutics – SynBio has been used to develop advanced cell therapies, mRNA vaccines, and biomaterials for medical treatment, it has also been used to produce drug intermediates and excipients more efficiently, and has been used to produce engineered microbial cells and other biosensors with applications in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as cancer.

Future food and drinks  - SynBio approaches are used in areas such as metabolic engineering, precision fermentation, and cellular agriculture for the production of food and drink ingredients – such approaches may produce known products in a more efficient way or could lead to the development of new products such as cultivated meat.

Green tech – renewable energy has been linked to SynBio for a long time and have huge promise, but SynBio has many more applications in the green space, such as bioplastic production, environmental disease control, and the production of engineered microbes for heavy metal remediation, plastic recycling, pollution detection, and carbon capture.

Additionally, specific areas of science and technology also utilise SynBio approaches, and these technology areas are readily used in the above-mentioned industries:

Enzyme and protein engineering

Enzyme and protein engineering

Engineered cells and cellular machinery

Engineered cells and cellular machinery

Engineered DNA and genetic circuits

Engineered DNA and genetic circuits

Tractor fertilising

Synthetic Biology - creating innovative solutions to tackle climate change

Over the past few decades, awareness of the impact that humans are having on the planet has grown across the world.

In the UK in 2021, 75% of adults reported feeling worried about climate change, and the recent COP27 climate conference has once again put the spotlight on the actions and promises of world leaders.

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Forward-looking in the Synthetic Biology Space

Synthetic Biology has contributed to some incredible breakthroughs in recent years. Without SynBio, we wouldn’t have mRNA vaccines for COVID-19, lab-grown meat could not have been approved for sale, and many advanced cell therapies could not be used for the treatment of cancers. It is so important that the researchers and companies in these areas are able to shout about their successes – the world needs to learn about the fantastic promise of the area.   

However, to be able to discuss their technology with confidence, inventions must be protected based on a robust IP strategy. It is essential that the IP strategy is individually tailored, enforceable, and commercially focussed.  

This is especially true for small companies and new ventures in the competitive SynBio space. Prospective investors and partners are very keen to know that the technology has been properly protected. Decisions on whether to invest, the scale of investment, and terms of the agreement, are often based on the strength of the IP.  

We look forward to being able to work with both current and future clients to help mould their IP strategies and protect their inventions in a way that aligns with their commercial goals. We can’t wait to see how their SynBio innovations shape the world of the future.

Talk to our Synthetic Biology Specialists

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Patents are both a driver and a barometer of innovation

Our report examines the role of patents in making innovative ‘green’ technologies into a reality as well as how the patent landscape can be used to identify opportunities for partnering, collaboration and investment.

We share our enthusiasm and admiration for commercially-focused innovation across a diverse range of technologies, from repurposing carbon dioxide to make protein-rich foods, to the multi-faceted approach to a circular plastics economy. We also discuss the tantalising prospect of AI-mediated renewable energy supply, and the harnessing of battery tech from the EV boom to drive energy efficiency in consumer devices. This report reflects our passion for technology solutions that tackle our shared global challenge. 

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