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The Next Big Frontier?

At the Huffington Post's Science blog, Singularity University's Andrew Hessel says it's high time for a second Human Genome Project. "Today, in 2012, reading a human genome is no big deal," Hessel says. The next big frontier? "Genetic engineering," he adds.

Hessel proposes a challenge to the international research community:

I want to be absolutely clear that I'm talking only about the task of writing a complete 3 billion basepair human genome, correctly organized into 23 chromosomes, and packaged into a nucleus. A technical challenge, validated by showing the synthetic genome is functional if microinjected into a cultured cell. What I'm definitely not suggesting is growing a baby from a synthetic genome. Before we can fly, we need to be able to walk.

Hessel goes on to detail the reasons why writing a human genome is the next logical step in genomics, and suggests that "a coordinated effort to write a human genome would likely be completed in less than a decade, cost significantly less than the first HGP, and result in countless new biotech applications."

"It seems a no-brainer," he adds.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.