Advances in Synthetic Biology Technologies: Cell-Free Protein Synthesis from Academia to Applied Market


  1. Zachary Sun, CEO, Tierra Biosciences
  2. Weston Kightlinger, Co-founder and CTO, SwiftScale Biologics
  3. Evelyn Eggenstein, Division Manager, Synthetic Biology, Daicel Arbor Biosciences
  4. Rich Ellson, CTO and Principal Research Scientist, Beckman Coulter Life Sciences

Conference: SynBioBeta 2022

While recombinant protein expression followed by protein purification is still the most common workflow in protein synthesis, the use of cell-free expression systems to produce proteins is rapidly growing.

Cell-free gene expression (CFE) or cell-free transcription and translation (TXTL) is employed in a variety of fields including biology, bioengineering, synthetic biology and biological physics. Major applications of CFE include biomanufacturing proteins (such as enzymes, therapeutics and vaccines), developing diagnostics, and prototyping DNAs (such as regulatory elements and gene circuits). Other applications include protein expression screening assays, metabolic engineering, protein labeling, NMR labelling for structural biology, and proteomics studies.

The new generation of CFE systems is user-friendly, powerful, and versatile. Combined with automated, tip-less, acoustic liquid handling, CFE can dramatically accelerate bioengineering and the characterization of novel technologies, such as CRISPR.

In this panel, we will discuss methods and applications of CFE and the advantages of working outside living cells, which allows for simple setup of reactions, rapid biomanufacturing scale-up, high-speed and high-throughput synthesis of proteins, and more control over protein expression.