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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

Unique Germline Variants Found Among Black Prostate Cancer Patients

Through an exome sequencing study appearing in JCO Precision Oncology, researchers have found unique pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants within a cohort of Black prostate cancer patients.

Analysis of Endogenous Parvoviral Elements Found Within Animal Genomes

Researchers at PLOS Biology have examined the coevolution of endogenous parvoviral elements and animal genomes to gain insight into using the viruses as gene therapy vectors.

Saliva Testing Can Reveal Mosaic CNVs Important in Intellectual Disability

An Australian team has compared the yield of chromosomal microarray testing of both blood and saliva samples for syndromic intellectual disability in the European Journal of Human Genetics.

Octopus Brain Complexity Linked to MicroRNA Expansions

Investigators saw microRNA gene expansions coinciding with complex brains when they analyzed certain cephalopod transcriptomes, as they report in Science Advances.