Biosecurity dilemma: Should mega synthetic biology company Ginkgo Bioworks be trusted to police its own industry?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
TTbIRkSmFzxWFlS EWT XQ

Try as a nefarious actor might, it would be near impossible to order the ingredients for making a deadly virus such as smallpox from scratch—at least not from any reputable company.

That’s because the world’s leading gene-synthesis firms all routinely screen customer requests against DNA sequences from hazardous viruses, bacteria, toxins and other ‘select agents.’ So, as soon as any would-be bioterrorist tried to purchase fragments of the pathogen’s genome, alarm bells would go off.

Boston-based Ginkgo Bioworks announced it had secured contracts worth up to $64 million to develop a range of biosecurity products for the nascent synthetic biology industry—chief among them, improved algorithms for screening orders made to gene-synthesis companies, and deep-learning models for detecting whether a DNA sample has been engineered in any way.

Related article:  Demand surges for genetic autism testing in Europe

According to Patrick Boyle, head of design at Ginkgo, the company plans to take the algorithms it has developed over the past decade for identifying beneficial DNA sequences, and adapt the models for predicting whether bits of code could be potentially harmful.

[I]t’s imperative for Ginkgo to be a steward for responsible science if the billion-dollar biotech firm wants to realize the full potential for good within synthetic biology. “We just think it’s the right thing to do,” [says Boyle].

Read full, original post: Synthetic Biology Behemoth Aims to Police Its Own Industry

Outbreak Featured
Infographic: Growing human embryos — How long should researchers watch human development play out in a dish?

Infographic: Growing human embryos — How long should researchers watch human development play out in a dish?

In May, the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) released new guidelines that relaxed the 14-day rule, taking away ...
Are GMOs and pesticides threatening bees?

Are GMOs and pesticides threatening bees?

First introduced in 1995, neonicotinoids ...
glp menu logo outlined

Newsletter Subscription

* indicates required
Email Lists
glp menu logo outlined

Get news on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.