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We're Still Working on the Walkman

As researchers from the J. Craig Venter Institute push on toward creating synthetic life — Venter tells the UK's Times Online that they are months away — the field is being compared to the heady 1980s days of computer science, as this piece in the Edge says. Both Deepak Singh and Ricardo Vidal say computers are not the best analogy. "The level of expertise, technical understanding and complexity required to manipulate genomes is orders of magnitude beyond that and for good reason," Singh writes.

Vidal adds, "No doubt that synthetic biology makes engineering biology easier but it's not something you'll be doing in your garage/kitchen/bedroom closet. At least not legally, or with much success."

The Scan

Renewed Gain-of-Function Worries

The New York Times writes that the pandemic is renewing concerns about gain-of-function research.

Who's Getting the Patents?

A trio of researchers has analyzed gender trends in biomedical patents issued between 1976 and 2010 in the US, New Scientist reports.

Other Uses

CBS Sunday Morning looks at how mRNA vaccine technology could be applied beyond SARS-CoV-2.

PLOS Papers Present Analysis of Cervicovaginal Microbiome, Glycosylation in Model Archaea, More

In PLOS this week: functional potential of the cervicovaginal microbiome, glycosylation patterns in model archaea, and more.