Revision as of 11:29, 26 September 2012 by BostjanP (Talk | contribs)

Human practice

We believe that biomedical applications of synthetic biology have great potential in improving human health in the twenty-first century.

We discussed not only the scientific and medical but also ethical, legal, environmental and other social aspects of our project with experts from different fields.

Physicians, patients, students, journalists, scientists and members of the general public shared their views and attitudes toward synthetic biology with us. A large majority of them expressed enthusiasm for the potential medical application of our project but also provided valuable information on which aspects of the project could be perceived as risky.

We also established connections with a network of high schools in Slovenia, many of them in the areas that don't have the possibility for a direct contact with scientific organizations, to introduce synthetic biology and its many potential uses to younger generations.

Figure 1. Participation of all stakeholders to exploit the advantages of synthetic biology.

Figure 2. Safety, regulations and other aspects important for our project.

Our goal was to make a contribution to the field of therapy of different accute conditions. Although our study shows promising results and the therapeutic implementation of such a system seems tempting, we realize that for the actual realization of our idea, it is necessary not only to collaborate with professionals from different fields but also to take into account the views and concerns of the broader public.

For this reason we organized various meetings regarding medical, ethical, regulatory and other questions (Figure 1):

  • Meetings with physicians whose specialties are the diseases and therapy which we thought might benefit from the application of synthetic biology. An infectiologist, specialist for a viral hepatitis, a specialist for surgical wound healing, a cardiologist and an interventional radiologist advised us on the opportunities to implement our envisioned therapy, on best envisioned practices for the introduction of microcapsules into the body and potential dangers.
  • We met with patients with viral hepatitis C and asked them about their views on the envisioned therapy and other applications of synthetic biology.
  • We correspondeded with the president of the Slovenian Medical Ethics Committee.
  • Meeting with a representative from the Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment responsible for biosafety.
  • We performed a survey of the perception of synthetic biology and our project mainly within the student population and within the journalists that can strongly influence the public attitude towards application of new technologies.
  • We established a network of high schools in Slovenia with a plan to disseminate the idea and results of the project and synthetic biology in general to Slovenian high school students and their teachers and attract them to this fascinating area.

We are aware that social aspects of synthetic biology are important for the successful clinical implementation of synthetic biology in the future. Safety, regulations, ethics, cost, efficiency and acceptance are all important also for our project (Figure 2). We are grateful to all the people who took their time to talk to us or to participate in our survey.