Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Synthetic Biologists Take to Sequencing

Nature News' Erica Check Hayden this week profiles a handful of synthetic biologists who are using next-generation sequencing and other molecular techniques to "quantify transcription in real time" and infer the 3-D "shapes of small RNA molecules," she says. The University of California, San Francisco's Chris Voigt tells Nature that "there's been a change in the scale of the problems that we can address, and this comes out of the tools that synthetic biology can provide." Hayden also takes a look at the National Science Foundation-supported International Open Facility Advancing Biotechnology, or BIOFAB, initiative, which she says "has now made about 3,000 well-characterized [molecular] parts." But despite the successes synthetic biologists have demonstrated thus far, Hayden says "money is scarce for this kind of work." Harvard University's Pam Silver tells Nature that "there needs to be a frank and open discussion about funding in synthetic biology." According to Hayden, funding is but one challenge of the field that researchers will address along with funding agencies and industry this week at Stanford University's Fifth International Meeting on Synthetic Biology, which, she adds, "is sold out at 700 attendees, with a waiting list of at least 100."

The Scan

Not as High as Hoped

The Associated Press says initial results from a trial of CureVac's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine suggests low effectiveness in preventing COVID-19.

Finding Freshwater DNA

A new research project plans to use eDNA sampling to analyze freshwater rivers across the world, the Guardian reports.

Rise in Payments

Kaiser Health News investigates the rise of payments made by medical device companies to surgeons that could be in violation of anti-kickback laws.

Nature Papers Present Ginkgo Biloba Genome Assembly, Collection of Polygenic Indexes, More

In Nature this week: a nearly complete Ginkgo biloba genome assembly, polygenic indexes for dozens of phenotypes, and more.