SOURCE: Xtalks

Xtalks Webinars

June 14, 2016 07:00 ET

Xtalks Announces a New Blog Article -- Advocates' and Critics' Perspectives on Creating a Synthetic Human Genome

TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - June 14, 2016) - Twenty-five years after the launch of the Human Genome Project -- whose goal to sequence the entire DNA complement of a human cell was completed in 2003 -- top researchers are setting their sights on an even more ambitious aim. The researchers, including George Church, a professor at Harvard Medical School, have begun discussing the feasibility of building an entire human genome using synthetic biology.

Last month, over 130 scientists, lawyers, government officials and other prominent individuals from around the world, met at Harvard University for a round-table on the topic of synthetic genomes. Conspicuously absent from the gathering were members of the media, who were not invited to the closed-door discussions.

According to Church, the meeting was originally intended to be an open discussion including journalists and other media professionals. Unfortunately, since the prestigious journal Science planned to publish a perspective piece on the results of the meeting, the editors issued an embargo which prevented the organizers from allowing members of the press into the meeting.

Dubbed the "Human Genome Project - Write" by Church and co-authors of the paper, the initiative has been called a logical next step following the completion of the original Human Genome Project. As the aim of the first Human Genome Project was to sequence, or "read," the entire length of human DNA, this achievement has been renamed to the "Human Genome Project - Read."

"The primary goal of Human Genome Project - Write is to reduce the costs of engineering and testing large (0.1 to 100 billion base pairs) genomes in cell lines by over 1000-fold within 10 years," said the authors of the paper. They went on to say that $100 million in initial funding will be required to launch the program this year, with long-term costs being difficult to estimate. "The costs of the project lie not only in obtaining de novo synthesized DNA but in the assembly, integration, and functional assays required to evaluate and understand the modified genomes," the authors continued.

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