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Next-gen genome writing picked as future biotech

The technology of next-generation genome writing in the field of platform bio will be essential to leading the future in the competitive era of technology hegemony, the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology said Monday, as it announced 10 promising future biotechnologies for this year.

The state-run institute said the technology of next-generation genome writing, which allows designing DNA and quickly combining it at a mass scale, will help mankind overcome technical limitations in matters related to health, space and the environment.

The technology can accelerate research on high-efficiency strains required for production of pharmaceuticals, energy and materials, the KRIBB added, and it will play a crucial role in the bio industry's paradigm shift into nature-friendly design.

The KRIBB, in cooperation with the data analysis technology from the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information, categorized the 10 future biotechnologies into four parts: platform bio, red bio, green bio and white bio.

The technologies of live cell imaging, epigenome editing and next-generation genome writing were under the category of platform bio. The technologies of mind-altering medicine, next-generation vaccines and drug delivery with extracellular vesicles were selected in the red bio category. The green bio category included chimera technology for bio organs and the engineering of plant photosynthesis. The technologies of nanomaterials' eco-friendly polymer synthesis and xenobiotics-degrading microbiome were selected in the white bio category.

Referring to the country’s quick response in developing COVID-19 test kits in the early stages of the pandemic two years ago, the KRIBB said South Korea can vault to become a powerhouse of biotechnology if it provided more support for other types of "high-risk, high-return" research development.

"Last year, South Korea was the first country in the history of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development to have its status changed to 'developed', so the 'fast-follower' strategy is no longer valid," said Kim Heoung-yeol, director of the National Biotech Research Center at the KRIBB.

"In order to become the 'first-mover' in the era of competition for technological hegemony, securing innovative technologies that will lead the future is more important than ever."

By Kan Hyeong-woo (
Korea Herald daum