Science fiction blog io9 is hosting a Mad Science Contest for researchers to design their own lifeform. "Building new lifeforms is the science of the future and therefore you can never have too many garage laboratories and mad scientists devoted to it," writes Annalee Newitz at io9. The winners get an all-expenses-paid trip to Hong Kong for the Synthetic Biology Conference, or $1000, and a drawing of their lifeform.

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The UK's Nuffield Council on Bioethics says genetically modifying human embryos could be morally permissible, according to the Guardian.

A new Nature Biotechnology paper reports that CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing can lead to large deletions or complex rearrangements that could be pathogenic.

The Wall Street Journal likens a prototype developed by Synthetic Genomics to a "biological fax machine."

In PNAS this week: strategy for reactivating Rett syndrome-linked MECP2, small molecules able to suppress Staphylococcus aureus virulence, and more.