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Industrialization of Genetic Engineering

New operations are popping up to handle and centralize genetic engineering lab work, the Economist reports.

The London DNA Foundry, at Imperial College London, is one of a handful of labs —along with ones at the Broad Institute and the National University of Singapore — that aims to perform genetic engineering work for customers, it says, noting that this may be a step toward scaling the field up.

For instance, the Economist says the Foundry's customers can order the genetic circuit they need from a parts list and the lab will make it into a plasmid. It can make and test 15,000 different genetic designs each day, the Economist says. At the same time, other labs are focusing on different aspects of genetic engineering: Transcriptic enables customers to store cell lines, often for use in preclinical drug screening, it says.

As the field is fairly new, London DNA Foundry's Paul Freemont tells the Economist that as each lab gets going, the industrial standards needed for genetic engineering may become clearer. "That will make it easier for the process of designing new synthetic life forms to be scaled up from the bespoke boutique business it is now to something more like a global industry," the Economist writes.