London's Imperial College now has quite the futuristic new department, with its DNA Synthesis and Construction Foundry now online. It's a place where the best scientists and their robotic assistants will fish out bits of DNA in the hope of solving trouble some problems like disease, death, low-carb fuel and generally useful pharmaceuticals.
The Foundry describes its mission as: "Building interchangeable bits of DNA, the building blocks of synthetic biology, is time consuming and expensive. It is hoped that the new Foundry will establish a common framework to build DNA by using an automated robotic system," with a staff consisting of synthetic biologists using the bubbling vats of emergent DNA to try to solve modern ills via the creation of new biologically based devices.
The key element of the lab is its high level of automation, which should mean experimental combinations of DNA can be grown quicker, trialled to see if it tastes like chicken, then hurriedly incinerated to obliterate the evidence.
It's all being operated by SynbiCITE, which is keen to stress the potentially commercial side of things; as in, it's not just students. It could make the UK billions when some automated DNA robot finds a new antibiotic. [Foundry via Independent]