Synthetic Biology: Modern Challenges and Problems of Biosafety

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2019-63-12-77-83

S. Zavriev (,
Shemyakin and Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences, 16/10, Miklukho-Maklaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation;
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation;
I. Shemyakin (,
State Research Center of Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, Obolensk, GNC PMB, Moscow region, 142279, Russian Federation


In 1980, German biochemist Barbara Hobom for the first time used the term “synthetic biology” when she described a transgenic bacterium constructed by use of DNA recombinant technology. Actually this direction has become active and has been widely developed only in the last decade. Today, this term is covered by a new branch of research which combines molecular biology and genetic manipulations for construction of new (yet not existing in nature) biologic functions and systems. The rapid growth of research in the field of molecular biology and genetics generates new trends, the development of which contributes to not only improving and expanding the possibilities of using its achievements for the benefit of humankind, but can also be used for illegal purposes. And one of the most vivid and promising trends is a synthetic biology, a new scientific direction in biology that deals with the design and creation of biological systems with prescribed properties and functions that have no analogs in nature. Theoretically, the modern possibilities of synthetic biology are limited only by the availability of a proper material base, the level of preparation and imagination of researchers. Base of state politics in area of chemical and biological safety focused on priority of directions, main tasks and mechanism for prevention of different chemical and biologic threats until 2025 was signed by the Russian president. The main purpose of these documents is a systematic decrease of negative impact of dangerous chemical and biological agents on humans and environment down to an appropriate level. The first Russian monitoring center was included in structure of All-Russian center for medicine of disaster Ministry of Health in January, 2019. The center will collect information about biological threats and analyze possible risks (including capabilities and achievements of synthetic biology). Existing international and Russian legal documents in bioethics issue are not harmonized, but provide a possibility to conduct clinical trials face I–III. Meanwhile, the necessity of further improvements of regulatory framework for the increasingly complex modern biomedical research involving the synthetic biology is obvious.


synthetic biology, biological weapons, biosafety, international cooperation


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For citation:
Zavriev S., Shemyakin I. Synthetic Biology: Modern Challenges and Problems of Biosafety. Mirovaya ekonomika i mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya, 2019, vol. 63, No 12, pp. 77-83.

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