Engineered Viruses Are the New Biological Weapons, Here's What You Need to Know

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Published on 31 May 2020 / In Film and Animation

Genetically engineered viruses are becoming more common as the costs of DNA sequencing and genetic engineering are dropping, what does that mean for us?

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In the world of synthetic biology, a microbe is seen as a structural frame on which to add genes & DNA. The microbe will be tested and have its performance improved, so it can hopefully do something useful for the world.

But this potential to modify living organisms and steer them toward global problems is often met with a dark side.

The National Academies of Science released a major report titled Biodefense in the Age of Synthetic Biology with a ranked list of threat concerns. High on the list is recreating known pathogenic viruses and making existing bacteria more dangerous, lowest is modifying the human genome with gene drives

The NAS synthetic biology report includes some suggestions that involve developing detection tools and computational approaches that can better screen for any rogue engineered organisms. And this is exactly what Ginkgo Bioworks, a synthetic organism factory, is working on.

Learn more about how synthetic biology—including DNA synthesis and gene editing—has increased severity of threats, and how real these threats really are on this episode of Focal Point.

#Organisms #SyntheticBiology #Viruses #Seeker #Science #FocalPoint

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