Agustín-Pavón, C. and Isalan, M. (2014), Synthetic biology and therapeutic strategies for the degenerating brain. Bioessays. doi: 10.1002/bies.201400094
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Prospects & Overviews
Synthetic biology and therapeutic strategies for the degenerating brain
Synthetic biology approaches can transform classical cell and gene therapies, to provide new cures for neurodegenerative diseases
Carmen Agustín-Pavón andMark Isalan*
Article first published online: 6 AUG 2014
Synthetic biology is an emerging engineering discipline that attempts to design and rewire biological components, so as to achieve new functions in a robust and predictable manner. The new tools and strategies provided by synthetic biology have the potential to improve therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases. In particular, synthetic biology will help design small molecules, proteins, gene networks, and vectors to target disease-related genes. Ultimately, new intelligent delivery systems will provide targeted and sustained therapeutic benefits. New treatments will arise from combining ‘protect and repair’ strategies: the use of drug treatments, the promotion of neurotrophic factor synthesis, and gene targeting. Going beyond RNAi and artificial transcription factors, site-specific genome modification is likely to play an increasing role, especially with newly available gene editing tools such as CRISPR/Cas9 systems. Taken together, these advances will help develop safe and long-term therapies for many brain diseases in human patients.