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A Little Tweak Here, Another There

It seems like everything these days can be customized to suit a particular need or want — everything from cars, shoes, and clothes, to bacteria. Synthetic biologists are working to create novel bacteria for all kinds of industrial uses, like organisms that could secrete biofuels or clean up oil spills, says the Boston Globe's Carolyn Johnson. But at Harvard Medical School, geneticist George Church is taking a different approach — instead of trying to create his own bacteria from scratch, his lab has come up with technology that will allow for "broad-brush genome editing of an entire organism," Johnson says. Church hopes to create organisms that can secrete amino acids for industrial uses, and says he foresees the development of a bacteria that is resistant to viruses that can sometimes contaminate the production of biotech drugs or food products. "Instead of trying to write the genome, Church has been developing techniques that can enable large-scale genome editing — essentially tools that will be able to insert, delete, or tweak an organism's abilities, such as producing a useful chemical or vitamin, or evading infection," Johnson says.

The Scan

Vaccine Update Recommended

A US Food and Drug Administration panel recommends booster vaccines be updated to target Omicron, CNBC reports.

US to Make More Vaccines for Monkeypox Available

The US is to make nearly 300,000 vaccine doses available in the coming weeks to stem the spread of human monkeypox virus, according to NPR.

Sentence Appealed

The Associated Press reports that Swedish prosecutors are appealing the sentence given to a surgeon once lauded for transplanting synthetic tracheas but then convicted of causing bodily harm.

Genome Biology Papers on COVID-19 Effector Genes, Virtual ChIP-seq, scDART

In Genome Biology this week: proposed COVID-19 effector genes, method to predict transcription factor binding patterns, and more.