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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

Alzheimer's Risk Gene Among Women

CNN reports that researchers have found that variants in MGMT contribute to Alzheimer's disease risk among women but not men.

Still Hanging Around

The Guardian writes that persistent pockets of SARS-CoV-2 in the body could contribute to long COVID.

Through a Little Spit

Enteric viruses like norovirus may also be transmitted through saliva, not just the fecal-oral route, according to New Scientist.

Nature Papers Present Method to Detect Full Transcriptome, Viruses Infecting Asgard Archaea, More

In Nature this week: VASA-seq approach to detect full transcriptome, analysis of viruses infecting Asgard archaea, and more.