Synthetic biology and personalized medicine have yet to become intimately involved, but such involvement has many incentives. An examination of each of these fields reveals the potential interfaces between these intervention oriented approaches to biological processes. Personalized medicine would gain from synthetic biology powerful therapeutic tools while synthetic biology would gain from personalized medicine a compelling motivational framework for designing customized biological interventions. This Feature Article will bring out the complementarity of synthetic biology and personalized medicine by proposing their potential hybrid form, called here constructive personalized medicine. Its diagnostic, therapeutic, predictive and preventive aspects would build on and integrate other achievements in genomics, systems biology and traditional and translational medicine. By imagining a future in which constructive personalized medicine comes into being, its challenges, risks and shortcomings can also be anticipated. Given the rapid pace of change in post-genomic molecular biology, and the push towards translational medicine and science, such anticipations are necessary and useful even prior to approaches such as constructive personalized medicine being actualized. Indeed, analysing future developments is valuable for building a broad capacity to deal with social change emergent from new technologies and configurations of science, regardless of whether those emergent activities ultimately fail or succeed.
Keywords: Biological engineering, integration, personalized medicine, synthetic biology, translational science, biological design
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