Geneticists have plans to build synthetic human genome: Here’s what you need to know

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NEW YORK - AUGUST 15: (FILE PHOTO) A visitor views a digital representation of the human genome August 15, 2001 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Fifty Years ago James Watson and Francis Crick published an account of the DNA double helix in the science journal Nature. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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The biggest beneficiary of a plan to fabricate a human genome from scratch could be a Massachusetts startup called Gen9 that has close ties to the authors of the still-secretive proposal.

Recently, more than 130 scientists, ethicists, and government funding officials met behind closed doors at Harvard University to discuss a follow-up to the Human Genome Project—one that would write a genome rather than read it. The event, named HGP Write, was meant to rally interest around the idea of synthesizing all six billion DNA letters of a human genome and using the results to “boot up” a cell.

That grand goal will require new technology as well as lots and lots of DNA. “We are going to be one of the companies that is going to make this possible,” says Kevin Munnelly, the CEO of Gen9, which was started in 2009 to manufacture DNA strands and whose founders include George Church, the visionary Harvard Medical School geneticist at the center of the genome-writing plans.

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Read full, original post: Big Ideas, Big Conflicts in Plan to Synthesize a Human Genome

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