In July 2017, I sat in a closed-door meeting coordinated by the State Department and the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. In the room were research scientists, government officials, and policy sciences with a PhD in hard sciences. Our job that day was to talk about the future of Crisp-Cas9. Subsequently, the public was not yet aware of this powerful genetic editing tool, but today you probably know it as a set of “molecular scissors” that use biological processes to cut and paste genetic information. Huh.
Crispr may be new, but the main points of our conversation were hardly original. We focused on the concerns of scientists — on regulatory uncertainties, access to research funding, intellectual property ownership, and concerns of government officials — on national security and public response to engineered “designer babies”. The same conversation took place in 1991 when the first gene therapy trials on humans began, and with the birth of Dolly in 1996, a cloned sheep. A few years later, in 2003, sequencing of the first human genome raised similar concerns. The questions were always narrow and short, in part because the questioners only imagined a future in which we cut, copied and pasted existing genetic material. They fail to see a future in which any person can build a life from scratch.
Crispr regularly makes headlines. To the extent that people are also aware that life can be edited, this is the technique to which they refer. But Crisp, while powerful, is problematic: Scientists cannot directly see the changes they are making to a molecule. What if I told you that soon we will not read and edit access to genetic material, but Write Reach too? This means that, in the not too distant future, we will program living, biological structures, as if they are small computers.
A new field of science called “synthetic biology” aims to carry out genetic manipulation. The sequence is loaded into a software tool – like a word processor, but for DNA code – and eventually printed using something for a 3D printer. Instead of editing genetic material into or out of DNA, synthetic biology gives scientists the ability to write completely new organisms that never existed. Imagine a synthetic biology app store, where you can download and add new capabilities to any cell, microbe, plant, or animal. If this sounds predictable, consider this: Last year, UK researchers synthesized the world’s first living organism –e coli-It contained DNA created by humans rather than nature. Earlier this year, a group of researchers started with a cluster of stem cells from the African-clawed frog as the basis, and then a supercomputer to create 100-generation prototypes for construction, a virtual environment and evolutionary Algorithm used. The result: a small blob of program tissue called an exNobot. These living robots can swim, swim, and walk. They work collaboratively and can even self-heal. They are small enough to be injected into the human body, travel around, and perhaps someday deliver targeted drugs.
These small drops are an example of writing access to life – a relatively new field of science. This umbrella term refers to many different areas of research, equipment, and systems for remixes, redesigns, and optimizing the living world. And the conversations we are having today about artificial intelligence – wrong fears and optimism, irrational excitement about market potential, willful ignorance statements made by our elected officials – we will soon be about synthetic biology Will reflect the conversation.
an amount of Synthetic biology is gaining attention and resources have only grown in the face of the epidemic, making it more likely that this research will affect our health in the near future. Investments in this area have increased due to novel coronaviruses; As a result, it is already accelerating successes in large libraries of mRNA vaccines, home diagnostic tests and novel antiviral drugs. For example, a synthetic biology startup called Berkeley Lights recently built hardware to collect a blood sample from a patient recovered from Kovid-19. This separates the spoiled cells from the helper and provokes scientists to see if they make antibodies like this that will neutralize the coronavirus. If the process works, researchers will be able to sequence the immune cell, send the code to a synthetic DNA company to print the physical DNA, and then inject the new DNA into the correct cells, making the cells as an antibody. Need for patient programming