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More then ever, synthetic biology has become a hot topic in biological research. It is therefore not surprising that this year a group of students of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven participated in the iGEM competition. Our project consisted of a proof of principle for a bacterium (named Dr. Coli) that produces drugs in vivo. Even more, this drug production is fully controlled and regulated. Our Dr. Coli indeeds functions a sort of robot.

Several people are concerned about the consequences synthetic biology can have on their lives and the environment. They refuse to believe the whole process can be controlled. It’s indeed true that there are several big issues concerning this new look on biology. However, we should have an open mind towards the possibilities of this new technology. In the following we’ll discuss some promises and some dangers of synthetic biology. We’ll go over some safety considerations and discuss some problems that might come forth from the research on synthetic biology and Dr. Coli in particular.