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Venter: Send Synthetic Genomics to Space

Speaking to a crowd of scientists at the Space Manufacturing 14: Critical Technologies for Space Settlement meeting held in Moffett Field, Calif., last week, Craig Venter said he could think of no organization "that could benefit from synthetic genomics more than NASA," reports Space.com's Mike Wall. Venter also indicated specific ways in which the space agency could better select astronaut candidates via genetic screening for genes associated with traits — such as robust bone regeneration — that "help make good spaceflyers," as "bone loss is typically a major side effect of living in microgravity," according to Wall. In addition, Venter proposed that NASA engineers could create a "synthetic microbiome" to eliminate the presence of specific pathogens, help astronauts take up nutrients more efficiently, and rid the body of odor-causing gut microbes to improve "their ability to get along with each other in close quarters," Wall adds. Of course, Venter also hypothesized the ways in which synthetic genomics could enhance the agency's food and fuel supplies in the future, and, he told meeting attendees, fundamentally "change the shape of what NASA does."

The Scan

Comfort of Home

The Guardian reports that AstraZeneca is to run more clinical trials from people's homes with the aim of increasing participant diversity.

Keep Under Control

Genetic technologies are among the tools suggested to manage invasive species and feral animals in Australia, Newsweek says.

Just Make It

The New York Times writes that there is increased interest in applying gene synthesis to even more applications.

Nucleic Acids Research Papers on OncoDB, mBodyMap, Genomicus

In Nucleic Acids Research this week: database to analyze large cancer datasets, human body microbe database, and more.