DARPA, Venter launch assembly line for genetic engineering

May 23, 2012

"Living Foundries" program to "transform biology into an engineering practice" (credit: VA)

DARPA has launched a program called called “Living Foundries,”designed to apply the conventions of manufacturing to living cells, Wired Danger Room reports.

DARPA has awarded seven research grants worth $15.5 million to six different companies and institutions, including the University of Texas at Austin, Cal Tech, and the J. Craig Venter Institute.

“Living Foundries” aspires to streamline genetic engineering for “on-demand production” of whatever bio-product suits the military’s immediate needs, starting with a library of “modular genetic parts.”

The agency wants researchers to come up with a set of “parts, regulators, devices and circuits” that can reliably yield various genetic systems. After that, they’ll also need “test platforms” to quickly evaluate new bio-materials to “compress the biological design-build-test cycle by at least 10X in both time and cost,” while also “increasing the complexity of systems that can be designed and executed.”