Synthetic biology is a rapidly growing multidisciplinary branch of science which aims to mimic complex biological systems by creating similar forms. Constructing an artificial system requires optimization at the gene and protein levels to allow the formation of entire biological pathways. Advances in cell-free synthetic biology have helped in discovering new genes, proteins, and pathways bypassing the complexity of the complex pathway interactions in living cells. Furthermore, this method is cost- and time-effective with access to the cellular protein factory without the membrane boundaries. The freedom of design, full automation, and mimicking of in vivo systems reveal advantages of synthetic biology that can improve the molecular understanding of processes, relevant for life science applications. In parallel, in vitro approaches have enhanced our understanding of the living system. This review highlights the recent evolution of cell-free gene design, proteins, and cells integrated with microfluidic platforms as a promising technology, which has allowed for the transformation of the concept of bioprocesses. Although several challenges remain, the manipulation of biological synthetic machinery in microfluidic devices as suitable ‘homes’ for in vitro protein synthesis has been proposed as a pioneering approach for the development of new platforms, relevant in biomedical and diagnostic contexts towards even the sensing and monitoring of environmental issues.
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