Thursday, May 20, 2010

Synthetic genome press conference highlights

Venter's press conference Webcast is here:
  • Venter is talking about using synthetic genomics to possibly create next year's flu vaccine (and has already formed a vaccine company)
  • White House & Congress were briefed; decided not to classify this.
  • admits this technology could be used to create dangerous pathogens, and say it should be controlled by monitoring who is buying the chemicals needed to synthesize.
  • next step: synthetic algae (< 2Mbp)
  • the new synthetic cell has gone through about 1B steps of self-replication
  • the code for the English words hasn't been revealed; they're hoping someone finds. "Designed to be biological neutral."
  • Nature has eight commentaries on this development (manuscript is free).
  • In a commentary in Nature, Arthur Caplan calls this "one of the most important scientific achievements in the history of mankind."
  • Project cost about $40M ($30M from Synthetic Genomics; some from DOE; others)
  • name of this cell: Mycoplasma mycoides JCVIsyn 1.0 (new strain, not a new species)

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