Navigation Links
Technology to screen for synbio abuses lags
Date:9/16/2010

London, UK (September 16, 2010) Amid growing concern that synthetic life sciences pose biosecurity and biosafety risks, scrutiny is increasing into the burgeoning DNA sequence trade. Research published today in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, published by SAGE, looks at the necessity of a global regulator for DNA trade, and the significant barriers to creating one.

Synthetic life sciences are making breakthroughs at a breakneck pace, and could offer technological fixes for our future ecological, technological, and biomedical challenges. But these benefits also come at a price.

Gabrielle Samuel of the Centre for Biomedicine and Society, Kings College London, UK, along with Michael Selgelid, of the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE) at Australian National University in Canberra and Ian Kerridge from the Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine at the University of Sydney, Australia, argue that the synthetic life sciences are not entirely benign. Their paper addresses regulatory options to respond to valid fears that this technology enables the synthesis of pathogenic agents, which could be used as biological weapons.

Policy recommendations on regulating the DNA sequence trade have generally focused on the regulation of longer, gene-length DNA sequences: It is easier to determine the nature of longer DNA sequences (i.e., what genes they contain and which organism, pathogenic or not, they come from). Further, the technology required to produce them is still relatively limited worldwide, and is often used in the synthetic life sciences.

At present there is no globally harmonized system to ensure all sales from DNA companies are for approved purposes. In Germany and in the United States, firms are required to limit the synthesis and delivery of specific, potentially dangerous DNA sequences to those researchers and institutions authorized to receive them. Many gene synthesis have a voluntary customer and order screening system in place. But in general, current screening practices are non-uniform and disorganized.

Samuel et al believe there is a strong case for creating a global clearinghouse to oversee centrally all DNA sequence ordering, and provide a better means of regulating the DNA sequence trade. The benefits include detecting when different companies are used for multiple orders; crosschecking national and international databases; and screening individual orders for inconsistencies.

Unfortunately, the technology required for an effective clearinghouse is not currently available. The present regulatory technological capability for the synthetic life sciences is, at best, embryonic. Existing screening software efficiency is low (generating too many false positives); screening processes are too easily evaded; and there is no agreed procedure for investigating and managing suspect sequence orders. The onus is on current policy makers to make developing better technology a priority.

"The biosecurity threats posed by the synthetic sciences are very real, and yet efforts to counter these risks are hindered by limitations in existing technology and by failure to develop biosecurity responses that cross national borders and bypass national interests," says Samuel. "It is crucial that political and financial support is made available to advance public policy in this area and to hasten the development of better regulatory technology."

Synthetic genomics is the chemical synthesis of DNA sequences. The synthesized sequences can already exist as in the chemical synthesis of genes naturally found in an organism or it can involve the synthesis of novel, unnatural DNA sequences. Synthetic biology is both the design and construction of new biological parts, devices, and systems and the redesign of existing natural biological systems for useful purposes.

Because the synthetic life sciences may enable the synthesis of biomolecules, whole genomes, and even simple life forms, these sciences have enormous potential, as they may logically be applied to any area of science or biomedicine that uses or works with genetic components, including pharmaceutical development, fuel production, detoxification of chemicals, genetic therapy, and environmental control.


'/>"/>

Contact: Jayne Fairley
jayne.fairley@sagepub.co.uk
020-732-48719
SAGE Publications UK
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Wearable sensor technology to measure physical activity
2. Carnegie Mellon receives funding to create new program studying environmental impact of nanotechnology
3. Developments in nanobiotechnology at UCSB point to medical applications
4. New technology may prolong the life of implanted devices, from pacemakers to chemotherapy ports
5. GEN reports on rediscovered technology to bolster proteomics research
6. Health care using telephone and telemonitoring technology benefits heart failure patients
7. Louisiana Tech professor, researcher receives patent for electromagnetic technology
8. Nano Letters publishes Dr. Yong Shis energy harvesting technology
9. Pioneering Use of Mobile Technology to Conduct Clinical Trials in Emerging Economies
10. New TGen technology reduces storage needs and costs for genomic data
11. Harvards Wyss Institute develops technology to produce sugar from photosynthetic bacteria
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/3/2016)... , May 3, 2016  Neurotechnology, a ... the MegaMatcher Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) ... large-scale multi-biometric projects. MegaMatcher ABIS can process multiple ... using any combination of fingerprint, face or iris ... MegaMatcher SDK and MegaMatcher Accelerator , ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... 2016 First quarter 2016:   ... with the first quarter of 2015 The gross margin ... (loss: 18.8) and the operating margin was 40% (-13) ... Cash flow from operations was SEK 249.9 M (21.2) , ... unchanged, SEK 7,000-8,500 M. The operating margin for 2016 ...
(Date:4/26/2016)... 27, 2016 Research and ... Biometrics Market 2016-2020"  report to their offering.  , ... The analysts forecast the global multimodal biometrics ... during the period 2016-2020.  Multimodal biometrics ... such as the healthcare, BFSI, transportation, automotive, and ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... June 27, 2016  Global demand for enzymes ... through 2020 to $7.2 billion.  This market includes ... cleaning products, biofuel production, animal feed, and other ... and biocatalysts). Food and beverages will remain the ... increasing consumption of products containing enzymes in developing ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... ... findings on what they believe could be a new and helpful biomarker for ... research. Click here to read it now. , Biomarkers are components ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... , ... June 27, 2016 , ... ... for Amgen, will join the faculty of the University of North Carolina ... professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at UNC Kenan-Flagler, with a focus on the ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016  Regular discussions on a ... take place between the two entities said Poloz. ... Ottawa , he pointed to the country,s ... the federal government. ... said, "Both institutions have common economic goals, why not sit ...
Breaking Biology Technology: