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Synthetic Ethics

Amy Gutmann tells The Scientist that the US presidential commission on bioethics looked for the "Aristotelian mean" between a no-holds-barred approach to synthetic biology and one that prevents the field from moving forward until all risk is removed. "We're likely to recommend that new organisms when they're created should be marked or branded in some manner to be able to monitor development in synthetic biology," Gutmann says, adding that there are multiple ways of doing so. In addition, she says the commission will recommend that an analysis of the risks specific to synthetic biology be undertaken to determine whether current guidelines for genetically modified organisms suffice for synthetic organisms or if there are gaps in those regulations.

The Scan

Highly Similar

Researchers have uncovered bat viruses that are highly similar to SARS-CoV-2, according to Nature News.

Gain of Oversight

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Biden Administration is considering greater oversight of gain-of-function research.

Lasker for mRNA Vaccine Work

The Scientist reports that researchers whose work enabled the development of mRNA-based vaccines are among this year's Lasker Award winners

PLOS Papers on Causal Variant Mapping, Ancient Salmonella, ALK Fusion Test for NSCLC

In PLOS this week: MsCAVIAR approach to map causal variants, analysis of ancient Salmonella, and more.