One long-term application could include the development of biological micro-processors. These are microscopic biologically based electronic devices that could, for example, be inserted into the body to monitor the health of patients, or detect types of cancer.
Already, researchers at Imperial have developed some important components for use in a biological micro-processor, such as an oscillator, which is a device that keeps time. Scientists are also working on logic circuits for use in microprocessors, called 'AND' gates, made from bacteria.
Another application is the development of sensors to detect harmful bacteria. These sensors are designed to recognise a small molecule that is released when harmful bacteria begin to colonise surfaces.
Scientists say this device could have applications in the food and healthcare industry where samples from wiped surfaces could be placed on the infection detector's chip. This would emit different coloured lights to alert the user to the type of bacteria that has infected the surface such as E.coli or MRSA, enabling staff to take remedial action rapidly.
The College will work closely with LSE to inform the public about the research that will be carried out at the Centre. This will involve lectures and outreach activities about the potential benefits of synthetic biology and its public value.
LSE will also train researchers at the Centre in the social, ethical, legal, and political issues surrounding this emerging field. These include examining the social and economic impacts of biotechnology, and developing practices of regulation and good governance
Professor Nikolas Rose, Director of LSE's BIOS Centre, points out that consideration of the social issues has been built in to the very conception of this new centre. He says:
"We have developed a highly innovative link between life scientists
|Contact: Colin Smith|
Imperial College London