Controlling gene expression through gene switches based on a model borrowed from the digital world has long been one of the primary objectives of synthetic biology.
Buying samples of synthetic DNA is surprisingly easy. The trade is overseen by the International Gene Synthesis Consortium, an industry-led group that works with government agencies to screen orders and buyers. But such oversight can’t prevent someone from purchasing hazardous DNA samples on the black market.
A newly expanded genetic alphabet that includes four synthetic nucleotides highlights the need for strict boundaries on their use.
Advances in the field of biotechnology and synthetic biology are becoming increasingly accessible to actors wishing to do harm, while scientists and policymakers have become increasingly aware that the current regulatory framework may not be adequate.
Sophisticated algorithms could help DNA-synthesis companies avoid making dangerous organisms on demand.
Computer-aided systems are helping researchers to create genetic circuits to order.
Biodefense in the Age of Synthetic Biology explores and envisions potential misuses of synthetic biology. This report develops a framework to guide an assessment of the security concerns related to advances in synthetic biology, assesses the levels of concern warranted for such advances, and identifies options that could help mitigate those concerns.
The industry as a whole has an opportunity to build on the initial self-regulation model that has been employed by several pioneering gene synthesis companies.
Mankind’s newfound ability to edit germline codes will soon be widely available. We will also be able to extend the palette of naturally available amino acids for molecular assembly. The US needs a policy framework that defines and addresses the five key decisions that will determine whether we can leverage the benefits and simultaneously defend against attacks.