Synthetic biology is the convergence of biology and computer science. By combining advances in biology with principles of engineering and computer science, scientists can now program cells to perform new and complex functions similar to the way they program computers. Synthetic biology has revolutionary potential in many fields including: sensing, defense against biological threats, medicine, environmental remediation, and manufacturing. Future synthetic biology systems may be able to:
- Recognize and defeat biological threats
- Detect and kill cancer cells
- Enable new medical diagnostics and therapies
- Eliminate environmental toxins
- Engineer insects to protect crops from pathogens
Raytheon Intelligence & Space is applying our expertise in artificial intelligence, machine learning, cybersecurity, malware techniques, sensor systems, and engineering to synthetic biology to develop new and unique solutions for our customers.
Safely Detect Explosives
Under DARPA’s Bio Reporters for Subterranean Surveillance program we are exploring a method to use naturally-occurring fungus to detect buried TNT. By using natural soil fungal webs to propagate engineered bacteria underground and send signals back up to the surface, we plan to create a warning system that glows under ultra-violet light to indicate the presence of buried TNT.
Identify Bacteria Before They Cause Harm
Under DARPA’s Friend or Foe program, scientists at Raytheon Technologies are developing a portable device to detect bacteria and evaluate their potential to cause harm as soon as or even before they pose a threat to civilian and military populations. This system will characterize bacteria quickly by examining their behavior, where current surveillance techniques don’t work on undiscovered bacterial strains or on bacteria engineered to evade detection.
Know What’s Natural, What’s Not
Right now, there is no technology that can quickly detect engineered microorganisms. For the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), we’re developing a system that adapts proven microfluidics hardware and uses our proven cybersecurity techniques to identify microorganisms based on their DNA sequences.