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To the Bare Essentials

Daniel Gibson says that being able to synthesize new genomes may "dramatically speed up the process of engineering microbes that can carry out tasks such as efficiently producing biofuels or vaccines," as he tells MIT's Technology Review. Last year, Gibson's team at the J. Craig Venter Institute announced that they made a synthetic genome using yeast cells to assemble the oligonucleotides, and Gibson has now developed a way of doing that without the yeast. Their aim, Technology Review says, is to come up with a "minimal cell" that contains only the bare essentials needed for life. "Gibson and his colleagues at the Venter Institute believe that synthetic biologists could use this minimal cell as the basis for cells that efficiently produce biofuels, drugs, and other industrial products," Technology Review's Katherine Bourzac writes.

The Scan

Renewed Gain-of-Function Worries

The New York Times writes that the pandemic is renewing concerns about gain-of-function research.

Who's Getting the Patents?

A trio of researchers has analyzed gender trends in biomedical patents issued between 1976 and 2010 in the US, New Scientist reports.

Other Uses

CBS Sunday Morning looks at how mRNA vaccine technology could be applied beyond SARS-CoV-2.

PLOS Papers Present Analysis of Cervicovaginal Microbiome, Glycosylation in Model Archaea, More

In PLOS this week: functional potential of the cervicovaginal microbiome, glycosylation patterns in model archaea, and more.