Project:Making our own reagents
Of the collaborative projects that were agreed upon in Paris, the most serious one involved making our own reagents- restriction enzymes and taq. polymerase.
As well as facilitating and strengthening Europe-wide links, the purpose of this would be to create an alternative source of supply for the DIY bio movement, one that is independent of the commercial suppliers that we currently use.
The problem with this is, that we might not be able to compete with the commercial suppliers in terms of cost, simply because we cannot apply the economies of scale that they can - we would be going back to artisanal, rather than mass, production.
A way round this might be to produce another public biobrick, one with the taq gene inserted, which would then be usable over and over again, thus reducing the cost of production. If such a biobrick already existed, it might be a way to kickstart the project.
It would involve getting a bacterium to express taq, restriction enzymes etc.(not at the same time of course!) Our last collaborative project involved inserting the gene for mercuric reductase into e coli, so we have, at least in principle, done this before.
The expressed enzymes must not, however interfere with the bacterium's own DNA, so the technical problems are quite considerable not least because The taq polymerase must be purified at low temperature to ensure stability. We would need a license to do genetic engineering. Hopefully we would be able to get one when we move to the new space.