Scientists propose project to build synthetic human genome
Other potential payoffs from the project include engineering virus resistance into mammal cells that are used to make medicines, so that infections don’t shut down production, he said. It could also help efforts to genetically modify pigs so that organs from them can be transplanted into people without fear of rejection, Boeke said.
The scientists proposed the launch of what they called the Human Genome Project-Write, or HGP-write, later this year, and said they would seek public involvement and the consideration of ethical, legal and social implications.
The project would seek public involvement and study the ethical, social and legal implications of the work from the start, the researchers said in Science. “It’s important to engage legal and ethical scholars and society at large to really help shape the goals as well as communicate the reasons that we’re launching this project,” Farren Isaacs of Yale University, another author of the paper, said in an interview.
That might help scientists identify the effects of genetic mutations, or create safer stem cells for transplantation, said the researchers, George Church of Harvard University and Jef Boeke of New York University.
The researchers said they have no intention of using these genomes — huge collections of genetic material — to make people. Instead, they said in interviews, human genomes would be used in lab experiments, inserted for example into cells or simplified versions of organs called organoids.
“What we didn’t realize until this happened was that they have zero liability,” said Pasquale’s son, Joseph Vaglio, a pharmacist who lives in Massapequa, New York. “There is no way they should be getting away with this. They are making money hand over fist. Part of their cost of doing business should be to have a competent medical staff.”
Elinore Boeke, director of public affairs for the Cruise Lines International Association, the world’s largest cruise industry trade association denied security, at least in the U.S., was any more lax than other means of transportation.
Scientists can make relatively short stretches of DNA now, but creating entire genomes the size of the human one with current technology would be hugely expensive. The main goal of the new project is to cut the cost of engineering and testing big genomes more than a thousand-fold in 10 years.
Advocates say CRISPR can help accelerate scientists’ efforts to correct and prevent hereditary disease. Critics worry about the unknown effects on new generations and the temptation by future parents to genetically engineer embryos to enhance characteristics such as intelligence or athletic ability. (Reporting by Will Dunham; Additional reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Michele Gershberg and Sandra Maler)
They said genome synthesis is “a logical extension” of the genetic engineering tools that have been used safely within the biotech industry for approximately 40 years and have “provided important societal benefits.” (Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Frances Kerry)
LONDON, March 9 (Reuters) – Scientists have taken a big step toward designing complex forms of life from scratch by constructing five new artificial chromosomes of baker’s yeast, representing a third of the micro-organism’s genome, or genetic blueprint.
Scientists not involved in the project cited potential benefits from the work, including learning the function of vast parts of the genome that remain mysterious and helping better understand how genes are regulated and why there is so much genetic variation among individuals and human populations.
“It will also provide technologies for advanced gene therapy and lead to a much greater understanding of how the genome is organized and how in disease cells this becomes altered,” said Paul Freemont, co-director of the Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation at Imperial College London.
Synthesizing genomes may alarm some who see biotechnologists “playing God” but scientists view it as a logical extension of existing genetic engineering that is already used routinely to make drugs like insulin, as well as genetically modified crops.
Robert Peltz, a veteran Miami maritime lawyer, said if the decision stands, the key for medical malpractice lawsuits to succeed will be proving the cruise lines control their medical staffs, that they aren’t independent contractors.
A team at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, expanded the genetic alphabet, creating two artificial DNA “letters” called X and Y. A few years ago, the researchers brewed up a type of E. coli bacteria commonly used for lab research that contained both natural DNA and this new artificial base pair – storing extra genetic information inside cells.
Writing in the journal Science on Thursday, scientists from the United States, China, Britain and France involved in the latest work reported that the yeast containing artificial genetic material was fit and healthy, just like normal yeast.
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